Tuesday 24 October 2017

Off-duty garda sues over 'wrongful arrest' on night out

Garda Oliver Cully pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photo: Courts Collins
Garda Oliver Cully pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photo: Courts Collins

Tim Healy

A GARDA who works on protection duty at Aras an Uachtarain is suing the State claiming he was unlawfully arrested on a night out.

Garda Oliver Cully (55) told the High Court he was off duty, when he was rugby tackled to the ground by other gardai, handcuffed, and arrested after querying the price of a taxi home.

Garda Cully, who has been in the force over 30 years, said he was left sitting on a Dublin street handcuffed until a garda van came to take him to a station.

He told a jury he  felt totally embarrassed  to be sitting in handcuffs on the street opposite a pub which is a “garda haunt”.

He had queried a charge of €35 for a taxi to Lucan in the early hours of the morning after he had left a Dublin city nightclub. He said he had ten months later done the same journey by taxi for just over €20.

He has sued the State and the Garda Commissioner claiming he was assaulted, unlawfully arrested, falsely imprisoned and maliciously prosecuted as a result of the incident in the early hours of April 24, 2004.

The State defendants have denied all the claims and contend he was lawfully arrested.

The jury was told he was found not guilty on all charges relating to the incident in the District Court including breach of the peace and resisting a garda.

A garda disciplinary investigation stopped after six months.

Garda Cully told the court he had met a garda friend and they went to a nightclub on Harcourt Street.

When they came out of the club around 3am, they went their separate ways to get home.

It was before the deregulation of the taxi industry and it was difficult to get a taxi in the city centre, he said.

He walked to Camden Street and managed to hail a taxi at 3.45 am.

He said he got in to the front of the taxi and the taxi driver said it would be “at least €35” to Lucan.

Garda Cully said he was aware it was illegal to overcharge and he told the taxi driver he would pay what was on the meter.

He said the taxi driver told him to get out, but then drove on and stopped after 100 metres and called over two uniformed gardai.

He said a male garda came over to him in the car and he told him he just wanted to get home and the driver was trying to overcharge.

He said the garda said “get the f... out of the car”.  The other garda spoke to the taxi driver.

He said he wanted the gardai to report the taxi driver to the Carriage Office but he was told to get out of the car or he would be arrested.

Asked by his own counsel if he was drunk, Garda Cully answered no.

He also said he he did not say anything abusive to the gardai.

The court heard he had had about seven pints from early in the night to the early hours.

Garda Cully said other gardai had arrived one said to him he was “ a big fucking ape”. He said he walked away with the intention of getting another taxi.

"After 20 five paces  I heard somebody running.

"My legs were taken from under me in a rugby  tackle . My face hit the ground first. They were trying to get my arms behind my back. They were kneeling on my back," he said.

The taxi driver, he said, also got involved and jammed his leg against his arm. Garda Cully said there were other gardai who did not get involved.

"I was shocked by what happened." he said

The case continues.

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