Innocent Carlow footballer awarded €1.1million after being wrongfully arrested, pepper sprayed and called ‘scumbag’ by gardai
A FORMER Carlow minor footballer who was wrongfully arrested, pepper sprayed and ‘called a scumbag’ by cops has been awarded more than €1.1million.
Gerald Jennings, 34, sued the Garda Commissioner and the State after he was wrongfully arrested on the same night his fiancee was savagely beaten by another man in a random street attack on December 2, 2012, in Carlow town.
It was claimed gardai wrongly suspected property manager Jennings of attacking his fiancee Martha Kowalczyk.
The attack was in fact carried out by Colvin Keogh, 26, a student from Paddocks, Carlow, who was later jailed for seven years for assault causing serious harm, and sexual assault.
The State denied the claims and said reasonable force was used to detain Mr Jennings, who had resisted arrest.
Following an 11-day case, a High Court jury found the actions of gardai were not reasonably necessary for the purpose of effecting a lawful arrest of Mr Jennings in good faith for the offences of breach of the peace and being drunk and disorderly.
They also found his detention was unlawful. The jury assessed general damages at €819,550 and exemplary damages at €333,000, a total of €1,152,550.
A stay on the award was granted in the event of an appeal on condition that €150,000 is paid to Mr Jennings. He was also awarded costs.
In a statement afterwards through Callan Tansey solicitors, Mr Jennings said the verdict “sent a strong message to the public that the high standard of conduct expected from our gardai was not met in this case”.
The lawyers said: “However, Gerald acknowledges that, in the main, we are well served by gardai and hopefully the necessary lessons from this case will be learnt.”
The court had heard that as a result of his treatment at the hands of gardai, including being pepper sprayed in the eyes three times, Mr Jennings was diagnosed with post traumatic stress.
The incident arose following the garda call to deal with the horrific attack on beautician Martha, which was captured on CCTV.
Martha refused to go to hospital in an ambulance until gardai checked on Mr Jennings first, who was asleep at her apartment.
Mr Jenning said his “nightmare” started when he was woken at the apartment by three gardai.
Sergeant Theresa Phillips began to caution Mr Jennings as to his right to remain silent after an officer noticed a handbag in the room which they understood had been taken in the attack.
Gardai claim Jennings was drunk and abusive, but he denies being aggressive.
Fred concludes: The Minister has to take action here and so has the Commissioner. Chimps would literally conduct this investigation with more precision. The man was lying on a couch; he was taken out and judged to be the perpetrator of the alleged crime. Sgt Phillips became Judge and Jury, not once was Mr Jennings pepper sprayed but three times, handcuffed and taken to Carlow Garda station. He was placed in a urine soaked and smelly cell. When he asked to have some relief from the pain in his eyes, he was taken out to the back of the building on a night that was 2 degrees and a water hose was used into his eyes. You have to ask the question here: Is this North Korea? or the Republic of Ireland where all people are innocent until proven otherwise in our court system. Enough said. Anybody reading this with a single brain cell, will understand this fully and agree with the points written here today. This case has cost the Irish taxpayers between the £1.1 million awarded with costs and then you add on the State’s barristers and solicitors so you are talking in the region of £1.5 million. It is alleged Sgt Phillips is on the list for promotion for Inspector. If this true – God Help Us. Fred
Recommend article below for context of what may be passed into law in the future re body cams and the Gardai.
Sunday Times News Review by John Mooney: “Bodycam of Evidence” article June 30th 2019 https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bodycam-of-evidence-hbtjdkm8t