High Court reporters
A GAA groundsman has told a High Court jury that gardaí falsely arrested him in a street when they mistakenly suspected he had been involved in an armed robbery.
Darren Fitzpatrick (52), of Glenties Drive, Finglas, Dublin, who the court heard was completely innocent and had nothing to do with the robbery, claims he was "jumped on" without warning by at least six gardaí while on his way to his then-girlfriend's home.
He said he was put to the ground, handcuffed and driven to Finglas Garda station without a word being said to him as to why he was being arrested.
The gardaí claim they had reasonable grounds to suspect he matched a description of the clothes and build of an armed robber who held up a bookmaker in Finglas a short time earlier that day. The court heard CCTV and other evidence completely ruled him out as a suspect within an hour.
Mr Fitzpatrick, a groundsman in Erin's Isle GAA Club, Finglas, is suing the Minister for Justice, the Garda Commissioner and the State for false arrest and assault on Saturday afternoon of January 15th, 2011.
The defendants deny the claims.
'We got him'
The court heard Mr Fitzpatrick had three or four pints in a local pub that afternoon when, at Glasanaon Road, Garda Gary Brennan suddenly approached him.
Mr Fitzpatrick said his arm was grabbed and several gardaí put him to the ground and handcuffed him without saying a word, before bundling him into a Garda car and taking him to the local station.
His then girlfriend, Deborah Stiles, who saw the incident, said she heard one of the gardaí say over the radio "we got him".
Mr Fitzpatrick says he was told nothing of why he was arrested and underwent a search in which his trousers were pulled down, he was patted down and his mouth swabbed before he was released after 40 minutes, having been ruled out as a suspect.
He claims two of his knuckles were broken when he was put to the ground and that he was shocked and traumatised by the whole incident.
While he did not attend counselling, his injury had affected his regular hobby of sea-fishing, meant he could not do heavy lifting in his job and he suffered pain in his knuckles during cold weather.
Garda Brennan, who was six months in the force at this time, said he had earlier been involved in the pursuit on foot of a man in Finglas who had robbed Paddy Power's bookmakers in Finglas.
He lost sight of the man and returned to Finglas station where, shortly afterwards, a call was received from a member of the public that a man matching the suspect's description was acting suspiciously in the Glenhill Estate area of Finglas.