A Cork garda who suffered a back injury when his patrol car was rammed by a stolen car during a high-speed chase 13 years ago has been awarded €789,000 by the High Court.
Noel Kevane, aged 43, of Rosscarbery, Cork — who was later retired from the force — was a bad candidate for the 1999 crash and has had “a torrid time to date”, Mr Justice William Hanna said.
The father of three had a “spontaneous nervous breakdown” five years after the accident and was retired from the gardaí in Nov 2009 due to depressive illness.
Mr Justice Hanna ruled Mr Kevane was injured in the line of duty during the high-speed chase and this was the cause of his later physical and mental difficulties. He was, the judge said, entitled to be compensated under the Garda Compensation Act.
He said Mr Kevane would probably have advanced further in the gardaí and reached sergeant level.
Awarding the sum, the judge apportioned €290,000 for loss of earnings to date and €100,000 for loss of earnings into the future, as he said Mr Kevane will be able to work again. General damages were assessed at €100,000.
Mr Kevane, who had been stationed in Cork City and later Dunmanway, suffered a back injury in May 1999 when the stolen car gardaí were pursuing in a cross-county chase rammed the garda car at Cahir, Co Tipperary. In his action against the Minister for Finance Mr Kevane claimed the patrol car had been rammed intentionally by the driver of the stolen car and he suffered injuries.
Mr Justice Hanna said there was little surprise Mr Kevane had ended up in the Garda Síochána as his father and other family members had also been in the force.
He was stationed at the Bridewell Station, Cork, and was an enthusiastic and able garda. He had sustained a lower back injury in the ramming but returned to office desk duties and in 2001 was transferred to Dunmanway Station.
The judge said in January 2004, Mr Kevane’s two colleagues were badly assaulted, and as a result there was a significant increase in his workload.
In Jul 2004, the judge said while walking on the beach with his wife Fiona, Mr Kevane had a “spontaneous nervous breakdown.”
A separate case in relation to Mr Kevane’s departure from the force was settled with provision of a special pension.
Mr Kevane, the judge said, is most affected by what has happened and his life, he felt, was turned upside down and he suffered back pain. Mr Justice Hanna said he was satisfied that dealing with his employer and the litigation has brought stress but this was unavoidable.
The garda was overwhelmed, particularly when he had to shoulder additional duties at Dunmanway Garda Station. The judge said he was impressed by Mr Kevane, that he was an honest and intelligent man and the crash injuries had life-long implications for him with a promising career cut short.
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