Two gardaí begin trial for assault on teen

A young Dublin man has alleged two gardai repeatedly kicked him while he was handcuffed behind his back, leaving him with a damaged kidney.

Leon Sutcliffe, 21, told a jury that one garda kicked him in the ribs when he got on the ground and put his hands behind his head, instead of behind his back as he had been ordered. He said once his hands were cuffed behind his back he received multiple “very hard” kicks to his body and one to his face.

Mr Sutcliffe told Garret Baker BL, prosecuting, that he refused a doctor when he was taken into custody because the two gardai were “laughing and snickering” like it was “a big joke”. He said they told him it was his fault as he had caused the injuries when he fell.

Mr Baker said in his opening speech that Mr Sutcliffe was left with a lacerated kidney and was in hospital for ten days.

The prosecution allege that the gardaí acted “well beyond their powers and the rule of law.” Counsel said they took part in a “sustained assault on man lying on the ground under garda instruction.”

Gardai John Mulcahy and Brian O’Connor of Blanchardstown Garda Station have both pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting the then 18-year-old Mr Sutcliffe on November 13, 2010 at Fortlawn Park, Blanchardstown.

The incident was investigated by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC). During interview the accused gardaí denied kicking Mr Sutcliffe and claimed that he was resisting arrest.

Mr Sutcliff told Mr Baker that he had been returning from an 18th birthday party about 5am when he met a group of friends around a burning wheelie bin in the Fortlawn area.

He said he panicked as the group scattered when a garda car pulled up. A short time later he was chased down on foot by two gardai.

He said he turned and faced the faster of the two gardai to tell him he wouldn’t run anymore. Mr Sutcliffe said this garda directed him to get on the ground and to put his hands behind his back.

He said he got a first kick in the ribs when he got down and put his hands behind his head. He then alleged he received multiple kicks to his sides and one to his face, after which “things went blurry.” Mr Sutcliff said he was dizzy, he felt that his front tooth was loose and his lip and nose “busted”.

The alleged victim said the gardai picked him up and brought him to the patrol car when some local residents came out of their houses.

Mr Sutcliffe said the gardai asked him: “Do you think you’re smart? What are you making us run for?”

He told Mr Baker that he gave his details at Blanchardstown Garda Station, including that he had been working at Tesco and had never been in trouble with the law. He was released “without caution” around 7am that morning.

He said he went home and slept for a while, but “got a fright” when he saw his injuries in the mirror after he woke up.

Mr Sutcliff said that he went to hospital after visiting a doctor’s surgery because there was blood in his urine. He remained there for ten days.

He described how he had played football twice a week for a local team at the time and had had a bruised kidney a number of years before, but added that this injury had fully healed by November 2010.

The trial is expected to last two weeks and continues before Judge Patrick McCartan and a jury.

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