Garda honoured for bravery recalls begging for her life

Sgt Deborah Marsh granted Scott Medal over confrontation with drunk-driver in 2012

Sgt Deborah Marsh from Co Tipperary says she had to  beg for her life after confronting a drunk-driver in January 2012. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22

Sgt Deborah Marsh from Co Tipperary says she had to beg for her life after confronting a drunk-driver in January 2012. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22

 

A Garda sergeant who confronted a drunk-driver has said she begged for her life as he pointed a rifle at her and then fired a number of shots at a colleague before shooting himself.

Sgt Deborah Marsh received the silver Scott Medal for exceptional courage and bravery on Friday at the Garda College in Templemore, where she now works as an instructor, as did her colleague Garda Gerard Brassil.

They were on duty at Newport Garda station in Tipperary on January 30th, 2012, when they received a report of a van being driven erratically in the Lackamore area, and went to the scene in their patrol car.

“We signalled to him to stop, which he did. He was quite intoxicated,” Sgt Marsh recalled. “When I went to effect the arrest, he produced a shotgun . . . A shot was discharged and we managed to get the gun off him. As we were moving away, he produced a second firearm, this time a rifle.”

She slipped and fell to the ground. “He pointed the gun out the [van] window and I begged him not to shoot me. He proceeded to take a lot of shots.”

The man shot through his windscreen, towards Garda Brassil, before turning the rifle on himself.

“It was hugely traumatic for him and his family and us and our families,” Sgt Marsh said, adding that it took “a lot of years” for her to recover from the incident.

“When you face your mortality and you know uniform isn’t the shield you thought it was, when you see the impact it had on your family, it did take an awful lot out of me.”

Garda Dwayne Conlon disarmed a man with large sword in the doorway of Leinster House in 2014. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22
Garda Dwayne Conlon disarmed a man with large sword in the doorway of Leinster House in 2014. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22

Meanwhile, a garda who confronted and disarmed a man who was holding a sword outside Leinster House was also presented with a Scott Medal.

Sgt Dwayne Conlon was on unarmed protection duty at Leinster House on April 29th, 2014, when he saw a man running towards him in the car park, holding a large sword.

“I disarmed him of the sword and arrested him for the offences. He had four serrated kitchen knives in his boots as well. I don’t think he knew exactly himself where he was going. He was described in court as a disillusioned youth at the time.”

Afterwards he felt “shock” about what had happened, he said, but at the time: he knew he had to do something about it.

“Next after me was the front door of the Dáil, so I had to stop him, basically. There wasn’t much finesse in it, bringing him to the ground and restraining him, with the assistance of my colleagues disarming him of the sword.”