Garda awarded €18,000 damages 14 years after gun threat
Colm Gregan feared for his life when weapon pointed at his head at Shankill station
File photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins
A garda, who told the High Court he feared he was going to die when a gun was pointed at his head, has been awarded €18,000 damages at a Garda compensation hearing 14 years after the incident.
Garda Gregan, now aged 41, told the court that while walking through the station on August 14th, 2004, he saw three garda colleagues “cowering” in a hallway. He had been told of the threat and could see the gunman through a door window.
He had entered the public office and requested armed assistance over the radio and when the suspect saw him he had pointed the weapon at him. Garda Gregan had held his hands in the air in plain sight of the armed man who told him he was going to shoot a garda.
The High Court hearing was told Garda Gregan said to the gunman that he was not armed and was not a threat to him. He had the gun pointed at his head. Garda Gregan said he believed he was going to die. Shortly afterwards the suspect started screaming and frothing at the mouth.
Garda Gregan, of Blackrock Garda station and now resident in Co Wicklow, said the whole incident lasted about an hour and for half of this time he was alone with the suspect. The man had later surrendered the gun.
“Time seemed to slow down and I remember thinking about my family and how I was never going to see them again . . . that I would never grow old and have a full life . . . I was frozen on the spot,” Garda Gregan said in an affidavit.
Garda Gregan outlined to the court how he had afterwards experienced persistent symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
In April 2006, national media reported that the man involved had hoped to provoke gardaí to shoot him by entering the station waving a gun and that he had been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
Court reports stated that the man, then aged 21, thought there would be an emulation of the “Abbeylara siege” when he entered Shankill Garda station pointing a black handgun asking to be shot because he was distraught at the possibility of not seeing his children if he was jailed for an earlier drugs offence.
The man had pleaded guilty to possession of an air pistol which he used to unlawfully intimidate at Shankill Garda station on August 14th, 2004, and also to possession of cannabis resin for sale or supply on August 4th, 2004.
The “Abbeylara siege” refers to an incident in Co Longford in April 2000 when 27-year-old John Carthy was shot dead by gardaí.
During the Garda compensation hearing Garda Gregan told barrister Esther Earley, for the Minister for Finance, that he had suffered flashbacks and had attended counselling following the incident.
The judge awarded him €18,000 damages. Details of the delay in the hearing were not outlined to the court.