A garda, who had a shotgun pointed at him while talking to an armed wife-killer for seven hours until he gave himself up, was on Monday awarded €25,000 compensation against the State.
Mr Justice Michael Twomey heard Garda Thomas Fay walked from the basement of a Co Cavan pub only because the shotgun had misfired during surrender talks. The man had hours earlier had shot his wife at point blank range in the chest.
Barrister Brid O’Flaherty, counsel for the now retired Garda Fay who had been stationed at Bailieborough, told a Garda Compensation Hearing he made little of the success of his heroic achievement and even less of his post-traumatic stress symptoms which he kept to himself for several years.
Ms O'Flaherty, said on September 5th 2013 Garda Fay received a call that a man he had known for 28 years, Oliver Kierans, was suspected of having killed his wife, Patricia. Her body had just been found in a room at the Kierans' former home.
She said Garda Fay had been told Kierans was in The Square Bar, Bailieborough, where a siege situation had arisen and he had gone there to talk to him. During talks that lasted from 7pm until 4am Kierans had pulled the trigger of the shotgun while pointing it at Garda Fay, but it had not gone off.
He was awarded a Scott Medal for his bravery during the armed siege. He had previously been awarded a Scott Medal for having in 2011 helped to save a teenager from a Cavan lake.
Garda Fay in evidence told Mr Justice Twomey he had called his colleagues for back-up at the pub and had gone down into the basement where he found Kierans sitting on a bench. He seemed to be in a distressed state and he had started talking to him. He had a double barrelled shotgun.
“By 4am he finally came out of the back door and admitted he had killed his wife and that she was in the back room of his house,” Garda Fay said.
Eventually he had succeeded in bringing out Kierans. Following a trial for murder in 2015, Kierans had been found guilty by a jury of manslaughter and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. He had been jailed for 12 years.
Garda Fay said between the pub incident and the murder trial he had not taken any time off work and had not sought any medical attention. It was the replaying of CCTV for the jury at the trial that had eventually got to him.
“I had worked away and had got on with things basically but it was always in the back of my head,” he told Judge Twomey. “The trial brought it all back to me. I knew I probably needed help and sought medical attention, receiving medication and counselling.”
Ms O’Flaherty told the court Garda Fay had been found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and, while he had retired in October 2018 he would probably have retired much earlier but for the fact he had an indoors job.
Awarding Garda Fay €25,000 compensation Judge Twomey said Mr Kierans had pointed the gun at him and pulled the trigger but luckily the gun did not discharge.
“Garda Fay had been prescribed medication and referred for psycho-therapy for mild to moderate post-traumatic stress disorder. He had been very honest and understated in his evidence,” Judge Twomey said.