The High Court heard that the minister had agreed to pay €250,000 compensation to Gerard Walsh, who thought he would die in the assault. Mr Walsh had told the court that in June 1992 he was stationed in Tramore, Co Waterford. He and colleagues had been clearing a pub in Portlaw, Co Waterford, when he suddenly received a blow from behind to his right temple.
Mr Walsh told his barrister, Bruce Antoniotti SC, that he failed to grab his assailant’s hands. The man, who the court heard was a martial arts champion, had then hit and kicked him repeatedly.
Mr Antoniotti, who appeared with barrister David Richardson, said that after his client, Mr Walsh, had fallen, his assailant grabbed him from behind and tried to choke him by putting his thigh and lower leg around his neck.
Mr Walsh told Mr Justice Bernard Barton he had been choking and thought he would lose consciousness. He had been terrified and fearful for his life and had felt he was blacking out.
The court heard that Mr Walsh’s colleagues intervened and put an end to the assault. He had been unable to stand due to pain in his left knee. His colleagues had carried him to a lounge area. Mr Walsh said he was taken by ambulance to a hospital. He had suffered bruising on his face, a swollen knee and soft tissue injuries to his body. The court heard he had strangulation marks.
He told the court he suffered headaches for weeks and his neck had been sore for several years. He had suffered a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee for which he had later needed to undergo surgery. Mr Walsh said he had ongoing pain in his knee and had restricted movement.
He had lost his confidence following the assault and had later developed psoriatic arthritis, a form of arthritis that affects the skin and the joints, in his feet, elbow and shoulders. He claimed his arthritis had been triggered by the assault. He had later developed depression symptoms and had been unable to return to full garda duties.
Mr Walsh, who now lives in Rathcormac, Co Cork, had been informed in 2001 that he was being retired on medical grounds, because of “infirmity of his mind and body”. He sued the minister for compensation for his injuries and also for loss of earnings and loss of pension.
Michael J Durack SC, for the minister, had argued that Mr Walsh’s arthritis condition was not linked to the assault.
After an adjournment, Mr Richardson told Judge Barton the case had settled. The judge approved a settlement agreement between the parties and ordered €250,000 compensation be paid to Mr Walsh, with his legal costs.