Garda who suffered 'vicious assault' on duty awarded almost €200,000 in damages

NewsBy Sunday World
Garda who suffered 'vicious assault' on duty awarded almost €200,000 in damages

A 58-year-old ex-garda, who “reluctantly retired” from the force because of physical and psychological injuries he suffered after being “viciously” assaulted on duty, has been awarded almost €200,000 damages in the High Court.

Mr Justice Bernard Barton said Peter Maguire was on duty in a patrol car with a colleague in September 2005 at Owenabue Car Park, Carrigaline, Co Cork, when he noticed a man roaring, shouting and making abusive gestures at them.

The judge said Mr Maguire, who sued the Minister for Finance under a Garda Compensation claim, decided to arrest the man for public order offences but he resisted his arrest and violently assaulted both officers.

The assailant hit Maguire several times on his chest before throwing him against the patrol car and then to the ground where the struggle continued.

The judge said it took three gardaí to arrest the man who was later brought to Togher Garda Station where he threatened Maguire.  The assailant had later been charged with several public order offences to which he pleaded guilty.

The judge said Mr Maguire had the next morning felt general soreness, exhaustion and pain in his back, right hip and leg. The pain had worsened during the following days and he had gone to his GP.

MRI scans had revealed that a right sided nerve root in his lumbar spine was “markedly swollen” and a disc injury. 

Maguire had not recovered from his back pain which affected his work and his family life.   He had to give up his hobby of deep sea fishing and later developed psychiatric injuries.

He had developed low self-esteem and experienced anxiety and low mood.  He needed to take time off work several times until his “reluctant” retirement on medical grounds in 2011 at the age of 53.

The judge said in his judgment the State argued that Mr Maguire could have continued working on office-based administrative duties.  It also claimed that he had not suffered any psychiatric disorder. 

The judge said he was satisfied Mr Maguire suffered an adjustment disorder and it was a combination of his ongoing physical symptoms and the diminution in his psychological wellbeing that led to his retirement.

“The Court accepts that it was entirely reasonable in the interests of his health that he should seek to retire from the force and that he did so by reason of his continuing injuries,” the judge said. 

The judge said he was satisfied that Maguire’s intention was to retire at the age of 60.  He had not retired after having completed 30 years of service in 2008 despite his ongoing symptoms.

Awarding him €195,000 compensation,  the judge said he was not satisfied that Mr Maguire’s injuries were such as to render him incapable of working.

“My impression from observing him and listening to his evidence is that he has come to terms with and has settled into his retirement with psychological benefits,” the judge said.