The sergeant who feared he was going to die on the night has lost 75% of the sight in one eye after he was hit in the face by the rock thrown during the violent disorder in East Cork.
Sgt David Haughney suffered permanent damage to the optic nerve in his left eye when he was struck by a rock thrown by Luke Quilligan in Youghal on December 14.
“I’m a goner,” Sgt Haughney told Garda John Tarrant, who tried to shield him.
Insp Eoin Healy told Cork Circuit Criminal Court how the two officers had been on patrol on a back road near Youghal on the night.
They came across brothers Luke, aged 20, and John Quilligan, aged 22, walking on the road but as they were talking to them a car suddenly reversed into a driveway.
They drove up to the car and tried to block it but the driver, Lisa Quilligan Gray, aged 27, tried to drive out aggressively and Gda Tarrant got to speak to her but Luke Quilligan set upon him.
Luke Quilligan knocked him to the ground and said: “Is that the best you’ve got?” and when Sgt Haughney went to assist, Luke and another brother, Sammy, aged 19, confronted him.
Luke Quilligan took up a boxing stance but Sgt Haughney pushed him back before Luke Quilligan backed off and started throwing rocks at him and Garda Tarrant.
They could not see the rocks coming in the darkness and one hit Sgt Haughey in the face, fracturing his eye socket and causing irreparable eye damage.
Locals who saw the confrontation dialled 999 and the four Quilligans took off in their car, which was now being driven by their associate, Pat Cash, aged 36, of St Vincent’s Hostel, Cork.
Gardaí followed the Quilligans to their home at Ballymartin, Dungourney where a major stand-off ensued, with Sammy Quilligan embedding a rake in the bonnet of another garda car.
The Quilligans’ father, Simon, aged 46, emerged from the family home and also became embroiled in the fracas, as did John Quilligan, who had not got involved in the earlier incident.
Two armed garda units had to be called and they had to deploy tasers to bring the situation under control following a stand-off that lasted over four hours.
In a victim impact statement, Sgt Haughney said his life had changed utterly because of the diminished sight in one eye and everything from recreation to work was affected. He paid tribute to those who had helped him, in particular his colleague Gda Tarrant, for his efforts on the night when he feared that he was going to die.
“What he did was well beyond the call of duty at great personal risk to himself, while injured himself, he literally shielded me at a time when I didn’t know I was goign to make it or not,” said Sgt Haughney.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin sentenced Luke Quilligan of Ballymartin, Dungourney, to five years in jail after he pleaded guilty to assault causing serious harm to Sgt Haughney but suspended the last year.
He also sentenced Sammy Quilligan, of Yew Wood, Larchfield Estate, Youghal, Lisa Quilligan, also known as Lisa Gray, of Cork Simon Community to 18 months in jail after they pleaded guilty to two counts of violent disorder at Youghal and Dungourney.
He sentenced Patrick Cash to 18 months in jail after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving but suspended it for 18 months while he also banned him from driving a period of five years.
He sentenced Simon Quilligan of Yew Wood, Larchfield Estate, Youghal, to 18 months and John Quilligan of Ballymartin to 12 months after they pleaded guilty for one count of violent disorder each but he suspended both sentences.