Sunday 17 December 2017

'The dogs were ripping open garda's leg... there was blood everywhere'

Garda John Leahy leaving court with Garda Orla Keenan, a witness in the case. Photo: Courtpix
Garda John Leahy leaving court with Garda Orla Keenan, a witness in the case. Photo: Courtpix

Saurya Cherfi

A detective garda was "ferociously and viciously" attacked by two pitbull terriers, a judge has been told.

Det Garda John Leahy told a garda compensation hearing in the High Court that the incident happened in June 2008 while he was a member of the Divisional Drug Unit in Galway.

Mr Justice Bernard Barton heard that Garda Leahy and Garda Orla Keenan were patrolling in a car when they noticed two known drug users around Wolfe Tone Bridge.

They married father of one said they followed the drug users until they entered a house at St Dominic's Road, The Claddagh, which was known as a place used for the distribution of heroin.

Garda Leahy told his barrister, Bruce Antoniotti SC, that they shouted "Garda Drug Unit" as they entered the house. Garda Leahy said he saw a man put a suspected packet of heroin in his mouth and warned the man that he was going to be searched.

In a struggle, three dogs - two pitbull terriers and a Yorkshire terrier - were released from another room. The court heard that the pitbulls attacked Garda Leahy, biting him on the legs.

Garda Leahy, who is suing the State, said the dogs were extremely vicious, growling and ripping at his jeans and his flesh.

Garda Keenan, who burst into tears as she recalled the incident, said it was the worst experience she had seen in her life.

"It was horrific. I've never ever seen anything like that. The dogs were ripping open his leg. He was screaming and there was blood everywhere," she said.

Mr Antoniotti told the court Garda Leahy was taken to Galway Hospital, where his injuries were sutured. One wound required 100 stitches.

Garda Leahy said it exacerbated a degenerative condition in his back, caused hip pain and left multiple scars on his legs.

The State claims that it accepts the incident may have exacerbated Garda Leahy's back condition, but denies that it was sufficient to result in surgery. Judge Barton reserved his judgment.

Irish Independent

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