Farmer loses garda assault claim

A High Court jury has dismissed a claim by a farmer, Patrick Coyle, that he was unlawfully assaulted by gardaí during an early morning protest against the Shell Corrib gas refinery in Co Mayo.

The jury was unable to reach agreement as to whether two other men, Patrick and Michael O’Donnell, were unlawfully assaulted by gardaí during the same protest on January 19, 2007.

Mr Coyle, of Barnatra, Ballina, and Patrick and Martin O’Donnell, with addresses at Porturlin, Shore, Ballina, separately sued the Garda Commissioner and State .

After almost four hours deliberation, the jury rejected Mr Coyle’s claims and failed to agree a verdict in the case of the other men.

DISCOVER MORE CONTENT LIKE THIS

In their separate civil actions, heard together over seven days, all three alleged the assaults occurred when gardaí were corralling protesters onto one side of the road as a convoy carrying workers to the Shell refinery was travelling on the other side.

The men alleged that they were assaulted after a Garda sergeant gave an order to remove a particular protester from the crowd.

Patrick O’Donnell alleged he was punched by a garda in the face when he went to help Mr Coyle, while Martin O’Donnell alleged he was punched by a garda when he went to the aid of his brother.

Gardaí denied there was any order from a sergeant to take a named protester out of the crowd. Their evidence was that a particular protester created a dangerous situation by crossing over the midline of the road as the Shell convoy was driving by.

Garda Marvin Lee said he was grabbed by the lapels by Patrick O’Donnell and dragged into a “frenzied” crowd and feared he might be put over the parapet of Bellanaboy Bridge.

Garda Lee’s father, Garda Peter Lee, said he used physical force to get his son away from the crowd. Both gardaí denied they assaulted any of the three men.

The judge said he would award costs against Mr Coyle and adjourned to a later date a decision on costs in the other two cases.

DISCOVER MORE CONTENT LIKE THIS


Lifestyle

Hannah Stephenson has advice on how to care for your garden when wet weather strikesHow to prevent and deal with waterlogging in the garden

If you're down in the epidermal dumps, exfoliation, hydration and decongesting is what you need.The Skin Nerd: How to prep and pep that played-out January skin

The Winter Show, which gets underway in New York this Friday, is a celebration of world cultures, from antiquity to the present.Time travellers are packing their suitcases for New York this week

“Finish him!” It’s one of the most famous lines in video games – in fact, they pretty much built the entire series around it. Mortal Kombat is notorious for brutal finishing moves, in which the characters kill off their opponents in horrific (and often humourous) fashion.Game Tech: Mortal line lives on in the cinema

More From The Irish Examiner