Thursday 22 February 2018

Garda 'who lost her ambition' after street assault led to broken nose awarded €75,000

Garda Claire Sheehan
Garda Claire Sheehan
Garda Claire Sheehan
Stock picture

Saurya Cherfi

A 34-year-old garda, who claimed she lost her ambition to become a Sergeant because of post-traumatic stress disorder following an assault while on duty, has been awarded €75,000 damages in the High Court.

Garda Claire Sheehan, who suffered a broken nose during the assault, said during a Garda Compensation hearing that in March 2007 she had assisted colleagues in apprehending and escorting a young man, charged with theft, to Bridewell Garda Station in Cork, where she is stationed.  

As she had been watching the man, she had seen him putting his hand in a trousers back pocket and, concerned that he may have a weapon, had approached him and asked what he was doing when he suddenly punched her in the face.

Garda Sheehan told her barrister, John Lucey SC, that she felt immediate pain in her head and her face which became swollen.  She had been taken to hospital where x-rays revealed a fracture and a deviation of her nose.

She said she later underwent rhinoplasty surgery and had needed to wear a cast for a week.  She told Mr Justice Bernard Barton she was very happy with the result.

Mr Lucey, who appeared with barrister Michael Murray, told the court that following the incident Garda Sheehan, a mother of two, suffered PTSD which had required therapy. 

She said her behaviour she ended the therapy

Garda Sheehan, who sued the State, said she had become hypervigilant and irritable, had flashbacks of the incident and had become nervous when working. 

The court heard that before the incident, Garda Sheehan, who was described as a confident and competent member of the force, used to enjoy her duties with An Garda Síochána.  She had hoped to become a Sergeant but had now lost her ambition.

Judge Barton said Garda Sheehan had been transformed by the assault as anxiety, upset and distress had interfered with her enjoyment of life. 

Hearing that Garda Sheehan had ended the therapy because she did not want to become dependent on it, Judge Barton said that, although she had made very good progress, she may need to attend some kind of lighter therapy. 

Awarding her €75,000 damages along with her legal costs and wishing her well for her future career, Judge Barton said Garda Sheehan suffered very severe injuries which had a profound effect on her physically and psychologically.

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