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Gardai disciplined for seizing car from heart attack driver

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Mr Duffy being taken away from the scene by an ambulance

Mr Duffy being taken away from the scene by an ambulance

Mr Duffy being taken away from the scene by an ambulance

Two gardai who seized a car from a man who later had a heart attack have been disciplined.

Seamus Duffy (50) collapsed complaining of chest pains after being stopped by gardai in Ballybofey, Co Donegal, on April 7 this year.

Doctors later confirmed he had suffered a heart attack. Mr Duffy had initially refused to hand over the keys to his car. His tax was two months out of date. Gardai seized the vehicle and drove off in it, with Mr Duffy's medication still inside it.

Mr Duffy, from Killygordon, collapsed with chest pains. Workers nearby called an ambulance and he was rushed to Letterkenny General Hospital.

He later complained to the Garda Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) about the incident.

In his letter to GSOC, Mr Duffy claimed that one of the gardai had threatened to use pepper-spray on him if he refused to get out of the vehicle.

"I got out of the car and I informed them that I was still feeling unwell, but (one of the gardai) replied 'so what'. I told them I was unable to walk due to feeling unwell, then I was told to get a taxi," said Mr Duffy.

Collapsed

"They took possession of my car. I collapsed on to the grass as I was not well and as I was lying on the grass they drove past me," claimed Mr Duffy in his letter.

The Garda Ombudsman decided that two aspects of Mr Duffy's complaint were to be investigated, and later concluded that he had been verbally abused by one of the gardai.

An investigation was also ordered to examine his claim that gardai drove past him after he had collapsed on the ground and did not seek any assistance for him.

On June 19 the ombudsman ordered then Buncrana-based Garda Superintendent Andrew Archbold to investigate the complaints.

On November 18 last, Donegal's Garda Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn wrote to Mr Duffy informing him that both gardai had been found to be in breach of discipline.

The investigation file was then referred back to the Garda Ombudsman.

The ombudsman then wrote to Mr Duffy again on November 28 informing him that both gardai had been found to be in breach of discipline.

hnews@herald.ie


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