Woman awarded €50,000 for mistaken Garda raid
A WOMAN whose home was raided by gardaí by mistake has been awarded €50,000 damages by a High Court judge.
Mr Justice Seán Ryan said Paula Hamlett had suffered a frightening, embarrassing and humiliating experience when gardaí raided and searched her home in the mistaken belief they were at another address.
While gardaí admitted the early-morning raid on Paula Hamlett’s house in Co Louth in 2007 was an honest mistake, it was nonetheless a trespass, he said.
Ms Hamlett, an information-technology manager, of Priory Lodge, Termonfeckin, Co Louth, had sued the State claiming damages for trespass and defamation as a result of the raid on the morning of February 27th, 2007.
She also claimed her constitutional rights had been breached.
The State defendants admitted liability in relation to a breach of constitutional rights, negligence and breach of duty.
The court heard a warrant had been obtained for a search of a house at a different address and the raid on Ms Hamlett’s home was a genuine error.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Ryan said gardaí were searching for somebody they had good reason to apprehend and they had to act fast in case their quarry escaped.
In this case, it was clear the gardaí realised relatively quickly they had made a mistake. There were two unfinished housing estates very close together and there was no name at the entrance of either estate, he noted.
While the gardaí had apologised promptly and treated Ms Hamlett with a degree of sensitivity, he accepted Ms Hamlett’s evidence one of the officers was very aggressive.
As a result of the incident, Ms Hamlett said, she did not want to stay in her home on her own and her husband had to cut back on work travel.
“It did not feel like my house any more,” she said.