Law student taken to Mountjoy Prison over TV licence settles damages action
A LAW student who was wrongly arrested and brought to Mountjoy Prison over a mistake about non-payment of a television licence has settled her action for damages.
Amy Daly (27), of Kilbrook, Tullamore, Co Offaly, sued the Garda Commissioner, the governor of the Dochas Centre at Mountjoy, the Minister for Justice and Equality and the State over the incident on January 9, 2015.
The case opened before a judge and jury yesterday but, following talks, was settled. Mr Justice Bernard Barton made an order for Ms Daly's legal costs and discharged the jury.
She had sued for false imprisonment, breach of her constitutional right to liberty, negligence and breach of duty.
The State parties had admitted liability for these breaches but there was an issue over the level of damages.
The court had been told Ms Daly was making a sandwich for her son when two gardaí called to her door to tell her there was an outstanding arrest warrant with regard to a TV licence.
Counsel said Ms Daly, who is a single mother, had been saving €4 TV licence stamps since the previous October and had collected €144 worth since then.
The gardaí told her she would have to come to Tullamore garda station.
While there were logistical problems in regard to the care of her son, she presented herself at the station a short time later where she was incarcerated in a small cell for the whole afternoon, counsel said.
She was later brought to Mountjoy Prison where she was again detained for several hours until the defendants became aware of their mistake.
Counsel said Ms Daly was in an anxious and distressed state throughout the day.
She had a history of anxiety and suffered post-natal depression after the birth of her son in 2010. For some six months before this incident, however, she had been clear of those problems.
The State parties had "held up their hands", counsel said, and said there was no just cause to incarcerate her.
The case was now about what level of damages she was entitled to and the focus of the issues between the parties was over her existing pre-incident difficulties.
There had been no apology for what happened. The court was told she suffered panic attacks and moved home to live with her parents for a time.
After lunch, counsel told the court the case had been settled.