Gardaí used pepper spray in a bid to force a woman prisoner release a colleague’s arm after she clamped her teeth into the arm of a female colleague and refused to let go, a High Court judge was told today.
Ms Justice Mary Rose Gearty heard during a garda compensation virtual hearing that in November 2014 Garda Sheanagh Carroll had been attacked at Donegal Court after escorting a violent prisoner from Dublin to the wrong courthouse, Donegal instead of Letterkenny.
Kicking and shouting
Garda Carroll said in an affidavit that the prisoner was removed from Donegal Court to a police van after kicking and shouting and pulling her hair. While in the van the prisoner had bitten the garda’s left arm.
“While attempting to push away the prisoner’s head she then latched her teeth down onto my right arm,” Garda Carroll stated. “I was unable to free myself as her jaw was clenched so tightly on my arm.”
Barrister Esther Earley, who appeared for Carroll with Kiera O’Reilly of Keans Solicitors, said other gardai had gone to their colleague’s assistance and even used pepper spray on the prisoner who eventually let go the garda who then had to escort her to Letterkenny Court.
Garda Carroll had her open and bleeding bite wounds treated at Leterkenny Hospital where a nurse, who knew the prisoner, had told her the prisoner was HIV positive. Garda Carroll had been given a cocktail of medication to combat HIV.
Garda Carroll, of Milltownpass, Co Westmeath, described the attack as savage and said she had suffered both physical and psychological injuries. Four months later she had resumed light duties at her Pearse Street, Dublin, station. Teeth marks were today still visible on her arms and she was self-conscious of them and of wearing short sleeved tops.
Judge Gearty, awarding her damages of €18,000, said that while Garda Carroll’s injuries and anxieties had been confined to well under six months duration, her personal life had been affected.
Two earlier attacks
Judge Gearty also heard a compensation claim today regarding an injury suffered in 2009 by Garda Carroll while attempting to cuff an aggressive man in Fleet Street, Dublin, during which she sustained a wrist injury. The judge awarded her €8,000 compensation.
In January last year Garda Carroll, who is 41, was awarded €22,000 damages by Mr Justice Michael Twomey for an undisplaced fracture of her left arm which she sustained when restraining a female prisoner who had deliberately kicked out and struck her.
The awards were made against the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform who, in each case, had conceded that Garda Carroll had been maliciously attacked while carrying out her duty.