Ex-garda gets €170k over impact of shoot-out

A retired Garda sergeant, who was left with lifelong post-traumatic stress disorder following the fatal shoot-out at Derrada Wood during the rescue of Don Tidey over 30 years ago, has been awarded almost €170,000 compensation.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Bernard Barton said Thomas Mansfield had been extremely affected after he was used with other unarmed garda recruits in the rescue from IRA kidnappers of Mr Tidey at Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, in 1983.

Mr Mansfield, formerly of Rathcoole, Co Dublin, had told a Garda compensation hearing that another recruit, Garda Gary Sheehan, and Private Patrick Kelly had been shot dead during the IRA gun attack.

Counsel Richard Kean said Mr Mansfield had been less than three months a recruit with the gardaí when he had been sent with others to search for Mr Tidey in Derrada Wood.

Judge Barton yesterday said in a reserved judgment that on December 16, 1983, Mr Mansfield had been in a car with armed detectives and other recruits and they could hear gunfire and explosions. He overheard a radio message “not to shoot at the blue Avenger car” as it was a special task force car.

The judge said as the armed detectives were about to leave him and two other recruits with a detective at the garda car, Mr Mansfield asked to be given a firearm.

He had been trained during the time he served in the Air Corps, before joining the gardaí at the age of 25 in 1983, and was given a gun, counsel said.

Mr Mansfield, who broke into tears as he recalled the events, had told the court that a blue Avenger car then drove up in front of them and stopped. Two men got out of the front doors and ran past them. Another man had started shooting at them from the open boot. He said he felt confused for a brief time. He had then realised the men were terrorists and he dived for cover.

Mr Mansfield, who sued the minister for finance, had told the court that he felt “frozen in time” and could not raise his hand or arm to shoot at the terrorists. Mr Mansfield later recovered an FN rifle from the boot.

Mr Kean said it was not until 24 years later that Mr Mansfield had understood the depth of his psychological injury which had given him no option but to take early retirement from An Garda Síochána in 2009.

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