Garda awarded €75k in damages after assault

A 34-year-old garda who claimed she lost her ambition to become a sergeant because of post-traumatic stress disorder after an assault while on duty has been awarded €75,000 damages in the High Court.
Garda awarded €75k in damages after assault

Garda Claire Sheehan, who suffered a broken nose during the assault, told a Garda compensation hearing that in March 2007 she had assisted colleagues in apprehending and escorting a young man, charged with theft, to Bridewell Garda Station in Cork, where she is stationed.

While watching the man, she had seen him putting his hand in a back pocket and, concerned that he may have a weapon, had approached him and asked what he was doing when he suddenly punched her in the face.

Garda Sheehan told her counsel, John Lucey, that she felt immediate pain in her head and her face which became swollen. She had been taken to hospital where X-rays revealed a fracture and a deviation of her nose.

She said she later underwent rhinoplasty surgery and needed to wear a cast for a week. She told Mr Justice Bernard Barton she was very happy with the result.

Mr Lucey told the court that following the incident Garda Sheehan, a mother of two, suffered PTSD which had required therapy.

Garda Sheehan, who sued the State, said she had become hypervigilant and irritable, had flashbacks of the incident, and had become nervous when working.

The court heard that before the incident, Garda Sheehan, who was described as a confident and competent member of the force, used to enjoy her duties with An Garda Síochána. She had hoped to become a sergeant but had now lost her ambition.

Judge Barton said Garda Sheehan had been transformed by the assault as anxiety, upset, and distress had interfered with her enjoyment of life.

Hearing that Garda Sheehan had ended the therapy because she did not want to become dependent on it, Judge Barton said that, although she had made very good progress, she may need to attend some kind of lighter therapy.

Awarding her €75,000 damages along with her legal costs and wishing her well for her future career, Judge Barton said Garda Sheehan suffered very severe injuries which had a profound effect on her physically and psychologically.

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