Saturday 24 March 2018

Man settles case after armed gardai mistakenly raided his flat

Francis Foster of Nicholas Street, Dublin 8 pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photo: Courts Collins
Francis Foster of Nicholas Street, Dublin 8 pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photo: Courts Collins

Aodhan O'Faolain

A DUBLIN man has settled his High Court action against the Garda Commissioner and State for damages over alleged assault and false imprisonment after the Garda Emergency Response Unit mistakenly raided his flat.

Francis Foster (58) claimed he has been traumatised after members of the ERU forced their way into his flat at Nicholas Street, near Christchurch Cathedral, around 6.30am on July 19th 2013.

Arising out of the incident, Mr Foster has sued the Garda Commissioner, Ireland and the Attorney General for damages, including exemplary damages, for alleged assault, false imprisonment and violation of his dwelling in breach of Article 40.5 of the Constitution.

He claimed he suffered trauma and shock as a result of what happened. He claimed he is unable to sleep properly, suffers from panic attacks, flashbacks and post traumatic stress disorder, and is on medication.

The defendants accepted the wrong premises was raided but denied the claims of assault, false imprisonment, or that they had breached Mr Foster's constitutional rights.

Today, following talks between the parties, Mr Justice John Hedigan and the jury were told by Jim O'Callaghan SC, appearing with Peter Ward SC, for Mr Foster that the matter had been settled and the case could be struck out.

No details of the settlement were revealed to the court. The Judge welcomed the settlement.

As part of the settlement one of the officers involved in the incident Detective Garda Paul Murphy of Kilmainham Garda Station told the court the wrong premises had been entered. He told defence counsel John Rogers SC he immediately apologised to Mr Foster on the morning of July 19th.

The Detective also expressed his regret" to Mr Foster over what was "an error". The Detective agreed with counsel Mr Foster is a man of impeccable reputation, and someone of good name. The events of that morning should in no way reflect on Mr Foster, the Detective agreed.

After leaving the witness box the Detective and Mr Foster shook hands.

The settlement came on the second day of the action where Mr Foster claimed he was walking from the bathroom to the bedroom of his council flat on the morning in question when the front door was smashed in by three men dressed in full swat/riot gear. 

He claimed the men started shouting at him and one pushed him to his bed and physically restrained him while the others pointed guns at his head and neck. It was only when the intruders asked Mr Foster his name did he comprehend they were gardai, he said.

After identifying himself, they realised they got the wrong person and were at the wrong address, he said. The three officers departed his home leaving the front door badly damaged.

The defendants accepted they entered the wrong dwelling as part of an investigation into a serious crime. However it was denied guns  were pointed at Mr Foster, that he was pushed to the bed or held hostage in the incident.

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