Sergeant Martha McEn- ery of Waterford garda station was found guilty of assault but not guilty of assault causing harm to Anthony Holness at New Street in Waterford.
McEnery’s case was adjourned from Friday evening after a jury at Waterford Circuit Court was given more time to reach a verdict. Two of her colleagues were found guilty on Friday of charges which arose from the assault on January 29 of last year in Waterford, while another, Sergeant Alan Kissane, was acquitted.
Garda Daniel Hickey was found guilty of assaulting Anthony Holness, causing him harm. Garda John Burke was found guilty of acting in a manner tending or intended to pervert the course of justice and also of acting in a way which was intended to impede the apprehension or prosecution of another.
Burke was operating the city’s CCTV system at the Waterford garda station communications room and, according to the prosecution, twice diverted a camera away from the assault on Mr Holness.
Yesterday’s unanimous verdict, after more than four hours of deliberation by the jury, brought an end to a trial which began over four weeks ago and followed an investigation by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).
The verdicts against the three gardaí were the first secured by the GSOC following a jury trial since it came into being in 2007.
GSOC head of communications Kieran FitzGerald said afterwards that the body was set up to provide independent oversight of policing, including the investigation of alleged offences by gardaí.
“Satisfaction or disappointment doesn’t really come into it,” he said. “Our job is to gather the evidence and bring it to the public forum.”
The outcome of the Waterford trial sends a message, he said, “that the system of police oversight is attempting to do and is doing what it was set up to do, that is, to gather evidence where we find it and bring it to the appropriate forum through the DPP, as in this case, to court for adjudication”.
All four gardaí were based at Waterford garda station in Ballybricken at the time of the incidents on New Street in the city.
Mr Holness was on his way home from a night out when he was seen urinating on the street by Hickey and a probationary garda who were on patrol at the time.
Hickey decided to arrest Mr Holness at about 3am and, when Mr Holness resisted, Hickey used pepper spray and then grabbed Mr Holness in a headlock. Hickey then bundled him to the ground and punched him on the back of the head several times, according to the prosecution case.
McEnery and Kissane arrived on the scene after responding to a radio call for help and, while Mr Holness lay face-down on the ground, McEnery struck him on the head a number of times with a closed fist.
McEnery was remanded on bail for sentencing on November 7, along with Burke and Hickey.