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Assault-charge garda said 'it all got out of hand'

A GARDA on trial for assaulting a Dublin youth denied using excessive force but said he could have handled the situation "in a more professional manner".

Garda Alan Conlon (30), one of four gardai accused of assaulting Owen Gaffney after breaking into his home, told the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) that he regretted that the situation "got out of hand", felt it was dealt with unprofessionally and apologised.

Gerard McDonnell, a GSOC officer, told Patrick McGrath, prosecuting, that Conlon said he had been driving around the Basin Street flats on February 17, 2008 looking to arrest Mr Gaffney for threatening to bite off his nose the previous night, when he met colleagues in the Kilmainham patrol car.

Arrest

Conlon said he found out Garda Eoin Murtagh was looking to arrest Mr Gaffney also and got a radio call from the Kilmainham vehicle later that day to go to the Basin Street flats.

Gardai Conlon, Murtagh, Claire Delaney and Sean O'Leary have pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to forcing entry at a Basin Street Upper premises, entering as a trespasser and assaulting Mr Gaffney (21) causing him harm on February 17, 2008.

Murtagh, Conlon and Delaney have also pleaded not guilty to the false imprisonment of Fidelma Gaffney on the same occasion. Conlon, in the presence of his solicitor, said the complainant's mother, Ms Gaffney, agreed to let himself and other gardai into her premises and everyone, bar two colleagues, went upstairs.

He said Mr Gaffney had been sitting on his bed and "immediately became very aggressive", tried to attack them and was continuously fighting and kicking in a struggle on the floor.

Conlon said he decided to "pull out" when he felt the situation "got out of hand" and to return another time to arrest Mr Gaffney. He said he got up from the floor and asked Mr Gaffney to calm down before he met Ms Gaffney, who was screaming at him to leave, at the door of the bathroom on his way out.

He denied striking Mr Gaffney with his baton. He said he didn't believe the force used had been excessive but added he felt he could have handled the situation more professionally.

He denied he was responsible for Mr Gaffney's injuries and said any force used on the youth had been solely to restrain him.

Murtagh, in his solicitor's presence, told Mr McDonnell that he disagreed with the allegations made and described assisting two colleagues in breaking up a fight involving Mr Gaffney on February 16, 2008.

He said he struggled with Mr Gaffney on the ground, but had no handcuffs and let him go. He denied entering the flat illegally, assaulting Mr Gaffney and falsely imprisoning his mother.

Injuries

He said he went to the flat to arrest Mr Gaffney, but couldn't account for the injuries he sustained and denied assaulting him with his fist. Delaney said she went to the premises to help Murtagh make an arrest for something that happened the previous night.

She denied Ms Gaffney had asked to see a warrant, denied showing her a document and said she contradicted a statement by then student garda Catherine Patterson that she had shown something purporting to be a warrant.

When shown photos of Mr Gaffney and asked what she thought of his injuries, she replied: "I am not a doctor."

The trial continues.

hnews@herald.ie


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