'I will leave your wife a widow' - Garda threatened on duty to get decision on sick pay application in June

'I will leave your wife a widow' - Garda threatened on duty to get decision on sick pay application in June

A garda who suffered post traumatic stress after a number of threats from criminals - including that his wife would be left a widow - is to get a decision by June on whether he is entitled to be treated as having been injured on duty for the purposes of sick pay, the High Court has heard.

Garda Aidan Bracken, based at Carbury Station in Kildare, was involved in an investigation in 2005 into a Lithuanian gang running an extortion racket in the area.

It led to the conviction of five members of the gang and lengthy prison sentences.

He says subsequently the gang targeted him and a colleague by following him home, making phone calls calling out the registration of his car and threatening to burn the vehicle.

During one call, he says he was told:

I will leave your wife a widow and you will remember this day when I'm standing over you with a gun to your head.

He says the threats continuously escalated for years and he eventually received formal notices from his superiors his life was in danger.

From around 2014, he began feeling demoralised and stressed, had difficulty sleeping and was anxious all the time.

This worsened in the aftermath of an incident in which shots were fired at an empty Carbury Garda Station and an attempt made to burn it down in April 2015.

Garda Bracken says in an affidavit he made a number of complaints to his superiors and a number of reports were produced on these.

He says at the time he was experiencing paranoia and stress and a number of the reports he made to his superiors at this time "were not accurate."

As a result he was subjected to disciplinary action and later convicted in Bray Circuit Court on January 14, 2019, of false reporting under the Criminal Law Act 1976. He was given the Probation Act.

In 2015, he was admitted to hospital after his doctor informed him he had severe post traumatic stress disorder arising out of the threats and his perception of lack of support from his superiors between 2005 and 2015.

He was out on sick leave and his pay of around €800 per week was cut to €226 after he had exhausted benefits from all other paid sick leave.

Last October, his pay was stopped altogether and the reduced pay was only restored after legal proceedings were brought.

He also applied to the Commissioner for a decision on whether he was entitled to sick pay covered by the "injured on duty" code which entitles an officer to full pay that exceeds those attached to "ordinary illness" sick leave.

When no decision on this came for around a year, he brought further proceedings seeking a decision be made.

The Commissioner argued his application was premature and a unit in the force which deals with these applications was doing its best to progress Garda Bracken's case.

John Kennedy SC, instructed by Powderly Solicitors, told the court on Friday that following discussions it had been agreed between the parties that a decision on the application would be made on or before June 22.

It had also been agreed that his reduced pay would continue until then or until a decision is made.

Costs were awarded to the garda.

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