'Potential fatality'  | 

Security firm to pay €50k damages after bouncer held man down with his head dangerously extended

"Get off me, I cannot breathe"

24/06/22 Anthony Neary pictured leaving the circuit civil court in Dublin. Pic Collins Courts.

Ray Managh

A judge has expressed his revulsion at the savage manner in which a patron of a Dublin nightclub was treated by a security man.

Judge James O’Donohoe said Anthony Neary, the former head doorman at the Arlington Hotel’s night club at O’Connell Bridge, Dublin, had behaved disgracefully in helping evict Stuart Burke from the premises.

He heard Neary, a heavily built man of more than six feet, had held Burke down on the ground outside the hotel while his head was dangerously extended over the footpath onto the roadway. Burke had no inkling of why he and a friend were being thrown out and had been shouting “Get off me, I cannot breathe.”

“There could well have been a fatality,” Judge O’Donohoe said.

Judge O’Donohoe told barrister John Sweetman, counsel for Burke, that he was awarding €50,000 damages to Mr Burke against Threadstone Security, Greenogue, Rathcoole, Co Dublin, to reflect the court’s revulsion at the way in which he had been treated.

The judge said Mr Burke, (44) a loss prevention officer, of Rathdown Square, North Circular Road, Dublin, had gone to the club with his friend, Daniel Murphy, after having watched a soccer match in another pub. They had been allowed into the club and served drinks sometime before midnight on 6th June 2015.

Mr Sweetman, who appeared with June O’Neill of Tiernan Solicitors, had told the court Mr Murphy, of Riverside Crescent, Marsh Road, Drogheda, Co Louth, and Mr Burke had separated inside the club and, only 20 minutes after entering, Mr Murphy had been told that after finishing their drinks they must leave.

It had been alleged Murphy had been slouching over a table and a security man Stephen Sorahan had sought the assistance of a colleague. At the time Murphy had been a security man with another company and had shown his badge. Sorahan said when he told Murphy the badge did not matter Mr Murphy had told him he was going nowhere.

The court heard more than half a dozen security men and bar staff had thrown both men out after a struggle. Murphy denied having thrown himself onto the dance floor and refused to get up. Burke had come to his assistance and he had also been forcibly ejected.

Judge O’Donohoe said both were respectable people and although awarding Murphy €18,000 damages he sliced it in half for having negligently contributed to what had happened. He said Mr Burke had foolishly become involved while not knowing why his friend was being ejected.

“Mr Burke was an entirely innocent party up until he had intervened,” Judge O’Donohoe said. “When brought outside Mr Neary acted totally beyond all reasonable action and held Mr Burke down on the pavement in a savage and violent manner and I am surprised the gardai didn’t prosecute him.”

Judge O’Donohoe said the primary cause of the whole episode had been security man Stephen Sorohan who, without a shred of evidence as revealed on cctv, had accused Mr Murphy of stumbling around and knocking up against people. He said Sorohan had been extremely cavalier in his evidence to the court.

He said both men had some degree of alcohol taken before going into the club but would not have been allowed in or served if intoxicated.

While Mr Burke had inadvisably entered into the fracas he had been restrained by Mr Neary in a totally unacceptable and savage way. To show the court’s revulsion of the treatment of Mr Burke he was awarding him €50,000 damages against the security company but reducing it by 20 per cent, to €40,000, for contributory negligence. Although not aware why his friend was being ejected he should have known to stay out of it.

Judge O’Donohue told Mr Conor Kearney, counsel for Packlett Limited, trading as Arlington Hotel, that the awards were solely against the security company but he suggested that the hotel should openly apologise particularly to Mr Burke for the way he had been treated by Neary.

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