A 36-year-old convicted burglar who has served time in prison for targeting an 80-year-old priest’s parochial home has been awarded €5,750 in personal injuries arising from “very slight injuries” he suffered in a Garda van crash.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Francis Comerford ordered the Garda Commissioner to pay Jonathan Kenny from Kilrush €5,750 arising from “minor injuries” he suffered when the Garda van in which he was travelling was involved in a road crash with another vehicle at an intersection on Ennis’s Mill Road on November 19th, 2014.
Mr Kenny told the court that at the time of the collision, he was in the back of the van with his hands handcuffed behind his back but was unrestrained in his seat.
Mr Kenny said he had just been arrested by gardaí as he exited the grounds of Ennis General Hospital. After the crash, he was transferred to a Garda patrol car and brought to Kilrush Garda station.
The Garda Commissioner, on behalf of the State, had denied liability.
In evidence, Mr Kenny admitted to having 60 to 70 previous convictions but told Judge Comerford that he has been clean for the past three years and hasn’t been in custody for the past two years.
He said that he “never had to be restrained or violent towards a Garda”. He said his longest period in prison was three years.
In upholding Mr Kenny’s claim, Judge Comerford said it was a very minor crash and Kenny had sustained “very minor injuries in the scheme of things”. But he said just because the injury was minor didn’t “obviate the need to have some care for the person who is being transported”.
Judge Comerford said Kenny could not protect himself in a collision or a sudden braking. He said a prisoner “is entitled while in custody to be safely secured”.
He said if the case had been brought under the judicial guidelines on personal injury damages, the award “would be quite slight”. But as they were instituted before the new guidelines, he awarded Kenny €5,750, which he said was “at the lower end of damages”.