Sunday 8 December 2019

Two off-duty gardai cleared of assaulting brothers on Christmas night out

Garda David Naughton pictured at Limerick District Court where he was contesting an assault charge. Photo: Press 22
Garda David Naughton pictured at Limerick District Court where he was contesting an assault charge. Photo: Press 22
Garda Wesley Kenny

Kathryn Hayes

Two off duty Gardai have been cleared of assaulting two brothers on a Christmas night out in Limerick.

David Naughton, (33) with an address in Lucan, Dublin, and Wesley Kenny (33) of Sandyford, Dublin - both based at garda stations in Dublin -had been accused of assaulting Luke and James Morrison outside a pub on December 5th 2013.

It was the prosecution case put forward by State Solicitor Michael Murray was that the two off duty Gardai had reacted angrily after they were unable to find prostitutes.

In his evidence in court Luke Morrison (19) claimed the officers tried to force their way into his home at Upper Cecil Street in Limerick, and later that night they assaulted him and his brother after inquiring where they could find 'brazzers' or prostitutes.

Garda Wesley Kenny
Garda Wesley Kenny

However in their direct evidence tonight at Limerick District Court both defendants strongly denied the Morrison's version of events.

Garda Naughton - who is originally from Limerick and stationed at Kilmaniham Garda Station - told the court that after leaving the hotel where they were staying he and Garda Kenny were walking on Cecil Street when they encountered a friend of the Morrison's who asked them for a light.

He described how shortly afterwards Luke Morrison and his girlfriend entered the his house on Cecil Street and the 19-year-old re-emerged wielding a large knife.

He said having retreated to Jerry Flannery's bar he and his colleague Garda Kenny who is based at Harcourt Square, then decided to return to the area in order to alert local Gardai.

At this point they encountered Luke Morrison and his older brother James who had earlier told the court they were walking to a fast food restaurant.

Garda Naughton said they were met with "pure aggression" and he was in fear that the knife would be brandished again.

He also said Luke Morrison demanded their wallets.

Video footage from a number of cameras shown to the court shows the defendants assisted by two other colleagues - who are also Gardai - restraining the Morrisson brothers on the ground a short time later.

Both Gardai denied they had effected an arrest and insisted their only intention was to restrain the brothers until local Gardai arrived

They also rejected earlier suggestions that they had declined to make a formal statement of complaint in relation to to the alleged attempted robbery.

In her ruling Judge Grainne O'Neill commented that the CCTV footage was the closest thing the court had to an objective eye witness account.

Having viewed the footage it appeared the first physical contact was David Naughton grabbing the wrist of Luke Morrison which she said was consistent with his version of events.

She said it was regrettable that the defendants did not relay their concerns to Gardai on foot patrol in the vicinity at the time, adding all that "unfolded could have perhaps been avoided".

Judge O'Neill dismissed all four charges as she was not satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt

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