Man arrested by mistake says he is only looking for apology
A GARDENER suing after he claimed members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit put guns to his head - in the mistaken belief he was part of a gang of robbers - told the High Court he is not looking for money but for an apology.
"This case is about the State apologising to me. That is what I have asked from day one," John Paul King told a judge and jury today.
He added: "Money means nothing to me. I pay my mortgage. Everything is up to date. I am not looking for money. I am looking for an apology over what has happened to me".
Mr King, who was under cross examination by State Counsel David Keane SC, said if he won compensation he would give it to charity.
Mr Keane said it was the State's case that members of the ERU alighted from an unmarked van at the petrol station when a man in a car with a false taxi plate was seen to put on a balaclava.
Gardai, counsel said, were acting on confidential information regarding the possibility of a robbery from a cash in transit vehicle in the Blanchardstown district.
One of the men int the car had a sawn off shotgun and the other a machete, counsel said.
Mr King claims a gun was put to the back of his neck and handguns were pointed at each temple by members of the ERU in an operation to prevent the robbery of a cash in transit van in 2003.
Later when detectives realised Mr King was an innocent bystander he said he was told by an officer he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Mr King(40) of Kingshall, Newcastle Upper, Newscastle, Co Wicklow has sued the State for damages as a result of the incident outside the "On the Run" shop and restaurant attached to the Esso petrol station on the Navan Road, Dublin, nine years ago.
In his action against the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Justice and the Attorney General, Mr King has claimed he was set upon, assaulted and falsely imprisoned by a number of armed men in boiler suits, who subsequently transpired to be gardai. It is claimed Mr King has suffered post traumatic stress disorder as a result of his ordeal in August 2003 and suffers flashbacks.
The defendants claim that immediately on being established Mr King was an innocent bystander, Mr King was released.
Mr King was arrested but it is claimed in the State defence the gardai had information that an armed robbery would take place on a cash in transit vehicle at a number of possible locations, one of which was the Esso petrol station.
Mr King was on his mobile phone and it had previously been noted by gardai that all the modus operandii of gangs robbing cash in transit vans often included a person on site communicating with them on a mobile phone.
It is claimed that immediately as gardai moved to apprehend the robbers as they got out of a car on the forecourt, Mr King threw away his phone and ran.
As a result, it is claimed the ERU reasonably apprehended he was a member of the robbery gang and was attempting to flee the scene.
In the second day of his action yesterday Mr King under cross examination said he did not hear the armed detectives shout "armed gardai" and he "personally did not pick up" that they were wearing overalls with identification, flak jackets and hats with 'Garda' written in yellow.
Counsel put it to Mr King there was no confusion on the part of other members of the public present.
"I can't speak for other people . I did not see garda or hear it," Mr King said.
He said he did not know if he threw his phone.
"I froze. All I wanted to do was take cover. I don't know what I did," he said.
The case before Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne and a jury continues.