Garda on frontline against criminality awarded €286,630 compensation

Sgt Donal Cronin was injured while trying to restrain prisoner in a violent struggle

Photograph:  Nick Bradshaw

Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

A prominent Limerick Garda sergeant who was in the front line of the fightback by the gardaí against criminality in Limerick city when feud violence was at its height has been awarded €286,630 through the Garda Compensation Scheme.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Bernard Barton has made the award to Sgt Donal Cronin (53) of Crecora, Co Limerick under the Garda (Compensation) Acts.

Mr Justice Barton has made the €286,630 award arising from injuries sustained by Sgt Cronin when trying to restrain a prisoner during a violent struggle as the prisoner was trying to escape the execution of a bench warrant at Limerick Circuit Court on July 9th, 2004.

According to Mr Justice Barton’s judgment, the prisoner struck Sgt Cronin a number blows before a fellow officer came to his assistance.

The judge said that the two ultimately managed to subdue the prisoner but not before he tripped Sgt Cronin, causing him to fall awkwardly on his left knee, with the prisoner and fellow officer falling on top of him.

Sgt Cronin heard a “crack” in his left knee as he fell to the floor and X-rays of his left knee confirmed he had suffered a depressed fracture.

Sgt Cronin didn’t return to work until February 2005 and it transpired that he would never again be medically certified fit to undertake full policing duties.

As a result of the injuries, Sgt Cronin was also never able to return to playing GAA and had to give up coaching.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Barton has awarded €120,000 in general compensation to Sgt Cronin, made up of compensation for pain and suffering to date of €95,000 and for pain and suffering into the future of €25,000.

Mr Justice Barton noted that Sgt Cronin has yet to undergo surgery under general anaesthetic for a knee replacement.

The €286,630 award also includes an award of €166,630 made up of €129,224 in respect of past and future loss of earnings as a sergeant; €26,894 in respect of the claim for medical costs associated with knee replacements and €10,512 for other expenses.

Sgt Cronin operates as a “court presenter” for the Gardai where he prosecutes cases on behalf of the Gardai in the district court three or four days each week — the ‘court presenter’ role is usually carried out by a Garda inspector.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Barton said that in October 2003, the Garda member was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in charge at Henry Street Garda Station in Limerick city.

The judge said: “This was a significant posting. The populace of the city was exposed to the results of the violent excesses then being perpetrated in the course of a feud between two gangland families and their associates.

He said: “As the sergeant in charge at Henry Street the applicant found himself in a very challenging position; he was quite literally in the front line of the fightback by the police service of the State against criminality in the city.”

The judge stated that this work involved a lot of overtime by Sgt Cronin for which he willingly volunteered and well over a third of his annual income was made up of overtime and this remained the case up until the time of the assault.

Sgt Cronin passed his Garda Inspector’s exams with distinction in 2001 and he failed on two occasions after interview in 2010 and 2014 to gain promotion to Inspector.

Sgt Cronin contended the injuries sustained in the 2004 courtroom incident were the sole reason he wasn’t appointed as Inspector as the physical injuries prevent him from undertaking external policing duties. If this argument was upheld, it would have resulted in a higher award due to an inspector’s lost earnings.

However, Mr Justice Barton rejected Sgt Cronin’s “unshakeable belief’ that the injuries stopped him being promoted to Inspector.

Mr Justice Barton found that the interview board would not have had access to Sgt Cronin’s medical records and would not otherwise have been aware of his injuries or the associated physical disabilities.

The judge also stated that as candidates involved in purely administrative roles are appointed to the rank of inspector it would not be open to the court to properly conclude it was Sgt Cronin’s physical disabilities arising from the assault which prevented him securing a successful outcome to the interviews in 2010 and 2014.

The judge stated, “I am also satisfied that should he decide to reapply for interview when the next competition is announced the injuries sustained as a result of the assault and the consequences thereof will fall for consideration and will not therefore be an impediment to a successful outcome”.