| 15.5°C Dublin

Injured army sergeant tells High Court of tyre explosion during Liberia tour of duty

AN army sergeant suffered injuries to his eyes after a tyre on an armoured vehicle he was examining exploded, the High Court heard today.

Quartermaster Sgt. Martin Bolger (44), from Thomastown, in Co Kilkenny, was on UN duty in Monrovia Liberia in July 2006 when the tyre of MOWAG Armoured Personnel Carrier exploded without warning.

He was just inches away from the tyre at the time, and had been examining after noticing a bulge while inspecting the vehicles. The vehicles in the camp were being inspected by Stg. Bolger before they went out on duty.

Yesterday he told the court that the bang was so loud that others thought that the base was being attacked by mortar fire or by a grenade.

As a result of the incident Sgt. Bolger claims that he suffered significant injuries to eyes as well as injuries to his hearing and balance.

He has brought an action seeking damages for alleged negligence and breach of duty of care against the Minister for defence, Ireland and the Attorney General.

Liability in the action has been admitted and the case is before the High Court for assessment of damages only.

Sgt Bolger told the court that after the tyre exploded he received medical treatment. He said that after the explosion he could only see red.

He was subsequently diagnosed with injuries including a RES Residual Erosion Syndrome, a painful condition which effects the cornea of the eye. His sleeping has also been effected.

The court heard that while the Sergeant, who has been in the defence forces for more than 20 years including several stints abroad, has remained in the army he has been undergoing continual medical treatment for his eye condition.

He claims that as a result of his injuries his medical status within the defence forces has been downgraded.

As a result Sgt Bolger said he was turned down for two other overseas tours with the defence forces, on medical grounds.

The case continues.