In what is believed to be the first case of its kind in Irish courts, a Lithuanian man is set to commence a compensation case against the State, claiming he was accidentally shot during a garda operation.
Tomas Mikalajunas, aged 36, was hit by a single bullet which caused serious head and spinal injuries after he and another Lithuanian man were confronted by armed gardaí near Shanagolden, Co Limerick, late on the night of June 27/28 last.
It was initially feared that he would be paralysed, but has made a near-complete recovery and is expected to be discharged from University Hospital Limerick shortly.
Reports at the time claimed that a garda weapon was accidentally discharged when members of a specialist unit ran towards the Lithuanian man’s car after they had forced it to halt on a dark narrow country road.
Mr Mikalajunas, a long haul lorry driver, has instructed solicitor Michael O’Donnell to sue the State, and the Irish Examiner has learned that the legal process for damages, which will initially involve the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, is ready to commence.
One legal source said: “It may end up in the High Court and take years.”
The Garda Ombudsman Commission carried out a comprehensive investigation into the shooting.
Mr Mikalajunas, who was driving a rented car accompanied by another Lithuanian man, was wounded as he sat in the car, which had been followed from Co Cork.
Mr Mikalajunas was taken to University Hospital Limerick with life-threatening injures and it was initially feared he would be paralysed due to a fragment of a bullet which lodged near his upper spine.
His wife, Gintare, travelled from Lithuania and spent weeks at his bedside.
One medical report states he needs further surgery to his jaw, which was shattered by the bullet.
Gardaí from Cork want to question him about his movements on the night of the incident, but have been waiting until he was deemed medically fit.
This part of the investigation will proceed on his release from hospital which is due within weeks.
Mr Mikalajunas arrived in Ireland just a few weeks previous to the incident and met up with the man he was travelling with.
The garda operation on the night of the shooting was part of a surveillance of Eastern Europeans suspected of carrying out night time raids in which pharmacies in Munster were targeted and expensive, high-end brand cosmetic products were stolen.
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