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Garda charged with assaulting joyriders

A YOUNG garda has been accused of assaulting two joyriders who claim they were severely beaten by several officers after a high-speed chase and crash.

Garda Thomas Hughes (29), based at Store Street station appeared in Dublin District Court charged with common assault on the two men, both of whom are now in custody on unrelated charges.

The two alleged victims -- both confessed thieves -- have said they were left covered in bruises and cuts following their arrest in Dublin's docklands on July 11 last year.

Four of the accused's colleagues are to give evidence for the prosecution during the hearing, which began yesterday and is expected to conclude today.

Gda Hughes is alleged to have assaulted Gary Henry and John Paul Maughan while they were being arrested after an incident in which the stolen car they were in crashed at Alexander Road.

Mr Henry (19) said in evidence he had been out with friends drinking in Dublin city centre and was "locked" on vodka, sambuca, wine and beer. He "ended up robbing a car" to get home to Coolock at around 2am and Mr Maughan went with him. He was handed the keys to a Volkswagen Polo by someone he declined to identify at Marlborough Place.

"I was told if I didn't drive it to Coolock I was going to be killed," Mr Henry said.

Gardai began to give chase at Eden Quay and Mr Henry sped up to avoid them, driving down to the docks before crashing in to a fence. He said at least 10 garda vehicles were in pursuit.

He said garda batons smashed in the windows, his friend was dragged out and he got out the passenger side.

"The two of us were beat," he said. "I looked and JP was on the ground getting beat with batons and then they grabbed me and started battering me."

He said there were up to eight gardai beating him after he was handcuffed and another two beating Mr Maughan.

"They started bouncing my head off the bonnet of the car and the cage at the back of the Maria van they were sticking me in," he said.

Afterwards, he said, he had cuts on his face and glass in his eye. Cross-examined by defence barrister Breffni Gordon BL, he said he was currently in Cloverhill prison on remand charged with breaking a car window, which he denied doing. No charges had been brought for the joyriding incident.



Knife

Mr Gordon said the car owner's version of what happened was that four people had approached him, demanding money as he went to get in to his car. One of them pulled a knife on him and he dropped his keys as he ran in fear. Henry denied that this happened.

Mr Maughan said in evidence the car was surrounded by gardai who then dragged him out.

"They started whacking me with batons, five or six of them," he said. "They gave me a kick before putting me in the van."

One garda said "that is enough" before he was handcuffed, he claimed.

"I was hit on the legs and arms, I was badly bruised.

"I asked them at the station to bring me to hospital and they wouldn't."

Neither alleged victim identified any specific garda as having assaulted them.

In cross examination, Mr Maughan said he had taken cocaine, tablets, hash and alcohol. He was also in custody in Cloverhill, on remand charged with robbery.

Gda Joe Piggott told the court Mr Maughan had approached him weeks after the incident and asked him about the "hijacking down at the port". The garda said Mr Maughan told him: "To be honest with you garda, I don't remember a thing from that night at all but after being over to the garda station three times, I remember everything from head to toe."

Gda Piggott said Mr Maughan also said: "Tom Hughes, which one is he?"

The investigation began under garda regulations and progressed to a criminal investigation. CCTV evidence taken by Dublin Port Company cameras was shown to the court.

The case continues before Judge Aingeal Ni Chonduin today.

aphelan@herald.ie


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