A garda sergeant who was injured when he was pulled down the steps of an aircraft at Dublin Airport by a man seeking asylum has been awarded just under €88,000 damages.
Sergeant Michael Griffin told a Garda Compensation hearing in the High Court that in April 2010, when he was the head of an immigration unit, he noticed a man who failed to join any of the immigration queues at the airport.
When the man was spoken to, he said his documentation was still on the aircraft.
“I accompanied him back to the air bridge of the aircraft from which he had disembarked and he dropped what appeared to be a passport,” Sgt Griffin said.
“I had just picked it up when I was set upon and pulled down the metal steps, striking my back and right arm and shoulder.”
Barrister Esther Earley, counsel for Sgt Griffin, of Willsbrook Road, Lucan, Co Dublin, told Judge Reynolds that almost 13 years after the incident Sgt Griffin could not engage in heavy lifting and frequently wakes at night due to ongoing pain in his shoulder.
Ms Earley, who appeared with Keira O’Reilly of Keans Solicitors, said the assailant was later charged with assault and was been sentenced to six months in prison.
She said Sgt Griffin, who has since taken up administrative duties, was assisted in restraining the man by members of the US Border Patrol.
Ms Earley said the man who attacked Sgt Griffin, now 49, had travelled to Ireland on a stolen passport which had fallen from his pocket as he was accompanied back to the aircraft.
“He attacked Sgt Griffin very severely and knocked him backwards on the steps causing him significant injuries to his back, right arm and right shoulder,” she said.
She told Judge Reynolds that the most significant injury was a tear to the tendons in Sgt Griffin’s right shoulder which had failed to recover despite injections and surgeries followed by physiotherapy.
In the end, Ms Earley said, Sgt Griffin decided to suffer the pain and get on with his career and his life, returning to office administrative work and never returning to front line duties.
Ms Justice Leoni Reynolds said Sgt Griffin, who at the time had children of a young age, had suffered a very nasty assault and had suffered a number of setbacks during his treatment. He was required to engage in an ongoing extended exercise programme, the court heard.
The judge awarded him €55,000 for pain and distress to date and a further €20,000 for pain and suffering into the future, as well as €12,951 in special damages, bringing the total award to €87,951 plus his costs.