'excruciating' | 

Army corporal suing Irish State for €60k over injuries arising from martial arts class

Corporal Greg Cahill said he would definitely have lost consciousness if he had not “tapped”

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Ray Managh

An army corporal, suing the State for damages arising from a martial arts class in which he claims he suffered serious neck and shoulder injuries, has told a judge he would definitely have lost consciousness if he had not “tapped” an opponent to release him from a rear choke hold.

Corporal Greg Cahill, of Oakfield Park, Naas, Co Kildare, told Judge John O’Connor in the Circuit Civil Court that he heard a click in his neck when another soldier, experienced in the art of ju jitsu in which he claimed to be a novice, locked him in the choke hold.

Cahill, who is leaving the army after a 21 year service to live with his wife in her native Poland, said his pain had gradually increased over time until it had become excruciating.

He told his barrister Sharbee Morrin that he had served twice overseas but during the last eight years had been unable to reach the necessary fitness levels to qualify for such postings.

“I suffered financial loss in that one could make up to €10,000 by saving allowances on every overseas trip,” he said.

He told the court he also had to pull out of a heavy pack carrying marathon as part of the fitness levels required to join the Irish Rangers, the country’s elite special forces regiment.

Mr Morrin, who appeared with O’Connor McCormack Solicitors, outlining Cahill’s €60,000 claim, said Cpl Cahill had joined a ju jitsu class at Cathal Brugha Barracks, Rathmines, in January 2015.

He was a complete novice and during a grappling incident at the end of the class had been held in a rear choke hold by a blue belt in the art.

Counsel said it was Cpl Cahill’s case that due to the negligence and breach of duty of the Minister and the Irish Defence Forces he had been exposed, in the absence of a risk assessment study, to an unnecessary possibility of injury.

He claimed he had been acting in the course of his employment while attending the ju jitsu class allegedly under the control and management of the Defence Forces.

Medical reports had been agreed between the parties subject to how his injuries had been caused and if there had been contributory negligence.

The 43-year-old soldier told Judge O’Connor that following the martial arts class his pain increased to a level where he was slumped over and unable to hold his head up.

He had been treated for his injuries at Naas General Hospital and St Bricins, the defence forces hospital at Arbour Hill, Dublin.

Cpl Cahill told defence barrister David Boughton, who appeared with Catherine Kitson of BLM Solicitors, that he had suffered a broken collar bone five years prior to the ju jitsu incident when he fell from a mountain bike.

He said he had also suffered a shoulder injury in 2014 during a training operation in the Wicklow Mountains.

He disagreed that his fitness levels had been due to flare-ups of his earlier injuries.

Mr Boughton had pleaded in a full defence to Cahill’s claims that the ju jitsu class had been organised by individual members of the Defence Forces on a free-of-charge voluntary basis and Cpl Cahill had elected to attend it while not acting in the course of his employment or duties.

Counsel told Judge O’Connor the classes had been tutored by a Diego Delgado Braga trading as Mixed Martial and Arts School of Excellence who had been joined as a defendant but was currently living in Brazil.

Following Cpl Cahill’s evidence the case was adjourned to facilitate the calling of a number of witnesses for the defence.

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