€100,000 for garda who feared HIV after attack

Judge describes him as a ‘somewhat inconsistent historian’ regarding injuries

Ms Justice Mary Irvine said it was unusual that Garda McDonnell had not immediately wiped the blood and saliva off his face as one might have expected of someone afraid of contracting an infection. Photograph: Eric Luke.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine said it was unusual that Garda McDonnell had not immediately wiped the blood and saliva off his face as one might have expected of someone afraid of contracting an infection. Photograph: Eric Luke.

Wed, Sep 4, 2013, 07:36



A garda who was spat at with blood and saliva and threatened with HIV infection by a man he was arresting has been awarded €100,000.

The High Court was told Garda John McDonnell (50) had been assaulted at Cashel Place, Cashel, Co Tipperary, in November 2007 while attempting to arrest a bloodied man who had just been involved in a scuffle.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine, in a reserved judgment, said it was unusual that Garda McDonnell had not immediately wiped the blood and saliva off his face as one might have expected of someone afraid of contracting an infection.

Photographs

Instead, the judge said, he had returned to Cashel Garda station where a colleague had taken photographs of the blood spittles on his face before he had gone to wash it off.

Ms Justice Irvine said Garda McDonnell had some short-lived concerns regarding the risk of infection but had been informed that his assailant did not have HIV or hepatitis C just over two weeks after the assault.

Garda McDonnell had sought compensation for the anxiety and distress he allegedly developed regarding potential infection and for soft tissue injuries to his back, neck and arms he sustained during the arrest.

The judge said she was taking into account Garda McDonnell’s significant history of back problems.

He had previously been awarded €40,000 under the Garda Compensation Acts for an assault which had occurred during the course of his duties in 1998.

Ms Justice Irvine said Garda McDonnell was “a somewhat inconsistent historian” as to the extent of his injuries and as to his reasons for remaining out of work in 2008 and 2009.

Loss of earnings

“He took no realistic steps to make himself available for light work during the period in question and had he returned to work, as advised, he would not have sustained the loss of earnings he is now claiming,” she said.

The judge accepted Garda McDonnell’s claim for loss of earnings immediately following the incident and from 2010 until May of this year. She believed he would have enjoyed full policing duties for another five years had it not been for the assault.

She awarded Garda McDonnell €65,000 damages for personal injury, €31,000 for reduced past and future loss of earnings along with loss of gratuity to age 55 and €4,000 special damages.