Garda settles claim he injured his back while moving body

Garda Sergeant Brian Clune claims he injured his back while helping to carry a stretcher

Tim Healy

A Garda who sued after he claimed he hurt his back helping stretcher a body from cliffs has settled his High Court action for damages.

Sergeant Brian Clune (43) said he twisted his back as the body of a person who had fallen off a cliff on to rocks below was transferred to an RNLI lifeboat.

He sued the Garda Commissioner as a result of the injury he allegedly sustained in the June 2009 incident in Howth, Co Dublin.


It was claimed Sgt Clune, or any other member of the force, were not provided with any manual-handling training.

The claims were denied.

The Garda Commissioner claimed there was contributory negligence on the part of Sgt Clune and he was the author of his own misfortune.

Declan Doyle SC, for Sgt Clune, said he client was in the garda station when a call came in to say a body was in the water to the east beyond the pier in Howth.

Sgt Clune and his colleagues drove as close as they could.

"They had to scramble down cliffs to the place where the body was washed against the rocks. There was no beach, it was very rough terrain," counsel said.

The operation was co-ordinated with the mountain rescue team and the RNLI life boat.

A decision was made that the best way to bring the body to shore was by water.

Sgt Clune, other gardai and other people managed to get the body onto the stretcher.

The lifeboat was pulled onto the rocks at the nearest place and the body was put in a bag and strapped onto a stretcher.

Sgt Clune, his colleagues and other personnel carried it for 30-100m across rocky and rough terrain to the lifeboat.

In the process of transferring the body from the stretcher to the lifeboat, Sgt Clune - from Donabate, in Dublin - said he twisted and injured his back.

When they returned to the boat house in Howth, and while the strap securing the body was being undone, Sgt Clune was splashed with blood and other fluids from the body bag and the corpse, which caused further distress, counsel said.


At the time, he thought he had pulled a muscle and did not appreciate it was a very significant injury.

Sgt Clune had a lot of physiotherapy afterwards but continued to have difficulty with his lower back, counsel said.

Following talks, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns was told the case had been settled and could be struck out.