A 60-year-old retired Garda sergeant who suffered back pain and depression after an assault during a car rally in Galway nearly 20 years ago has been awarded €105,000 damages in the High Court.
Mr Justice Bernard Barton said he did not accept that retired sergeant Michael Conroy had to retire in 2009 because of his injuries.
He adjourned the question of an award of further special damages until next month.
Mr Justice Barton said in a Garda compensation case that, in February 1998, Mr Conroy was based in Salthill, Galway, and had been on duty during the Statoil Galway international rally.
The judge said in a reserved judgment that individuals in the crowd started throwing missiles, including bottles, at gardaí and shouted abuse.
As Sgt Conroy arrested a spectator he was attacked by another man. He was kicked and pushed, landing heavily on a car bonnet. He had continued assisting his colleagues in dealing with “a very hostile crowd” before attending Galway General Hospital complaining of pain and bruising in his left leg.
Mr justice Barton yesterday said Mr Conroy, who sued the Minister for Finance, had later developed lower back pain. The judge said he accepted the injuries caused by the assault had reactivated degenerative changes in Mr Conroy’s back.
Mr Conroy also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and needed therapy. He had claimed he had retired early because of his injuries.
The State had claimed Mr Conroy had voluntarily retired after 35 years of service and had not indicated at the time he was retiring due to illness. He had not been examined by the chief medical officer when he retired. Mr Conroy had claimed his local management had been aware of his injuries. The State also alleged Mr Conroy was not suffering from PTSD symptoms, but depression.
Awarding him €105,000 in damages, the judge said he did not accept Mr Conroy’s claim that he retired because of his injuries. The judge said he had inherited a small farm at the time.
“There are a number of factors explaining why he had retired without inquiring as to why he had no appointment with the chief medical officer,” the judge said. “I am not satisfied that Mr Conroy was unaware of his entitlement to be examined to retire on illness grounds.”