Man sues after garda ERU mistook him for robber
A GARDENER thought he was dead when a gun was put to his neck and handguns were pointed at his head by members of the Garda Emergency
Response Unit who mistakenly thought he was part of a robbery gang at a petrol station, the High Court heard.
John Paul King told a judge and jury it was like a lifetime to him as there was a man kneeling on his back with a gun pointed to his neck, guns pointed at his head and he was being called a scumbag.
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 at the Esso petrol station on the Navan Road, Dublin, on August 5, 2003.
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.
Mr King it is claimed did not know what was happening and was under the impression he was being subjected to an armed robbery.
It is claimed Mr King has suffered post traumatic stress disorder as a result of his ordeal and suffers flashbacks.
The defendants admit that Mr King was lawfully conducting himself at the Esso petrol station but this was not known at the time.
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 when 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.
It is denied Mr King was told he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and it is further denied he was subjected to any verbal abuse or aggression.
It is further denied that guns were pointed at Mr King in the way claimed and that any garda banged a gun into the back of Mr King's neck or head as alleged.
In evidence, Mr King said he had stopped for a bite to eat at the Esso service station. He was in the restaurant when he got a text and went outside to the forecourt to make a telephone call.
He was on the phone when he saw men in blue jumpsuits and with guns running towards him.
"I just ran. I did not know what to do," he said and added he dropped his phone.
He said he was on his stomach with a guy kneeling on his back and a gun pointed in his neck and two guns at his temples.
When he later realised they were gardai, he did not understand what was happening. When gardai realised he was an innocent bystander he was given a cup of coffee, he said. Mr King said when he got home he was "in bits" and suffers flashbacks.
"Nobody apologised to me . I am not able to forget what happened," he said.
The case before Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne and a jury continues.