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Saturday 10 December 2016

Garda feared pitbulls were going to kill him in attack

Garda John Leahy. Photo: Courtpix.
Garda John Leahy. Photo: Courtpix.

A Detective Garda who thought he would die when he was viciously attacked by two pitbull terriers, has been awarded €200,000 damages.

Mr Justice Bernard Barton said in a reserved High court judgment he was satisfied that Gda John Leahy (52) suffered an exacerbation of a degenerative condition in his back and left hip which required surgery.

Gda Leahy told a garda compensation hearing that in June 2008 he was a member of the Divisional Drug Unit in Galway and was patrolling with Gda Orla Keenan when they saw two known drug users around Wolfe Tone Bridge.

The court heard Gda Leahy and Gda Keenan followed them until they entered a house at St Dominic's Road, The Claddagh, which was known as a place used for heroin distribution.

Married father-of-one Gda Leahy said when they confirmed that suspicious activity was going on inside they had waited for reinforcements and shouted "Garda Drug Unit" as they entered the house.

Gda Leahy told his barrister, Bruce Antoniotti SC, who appeared with barrister Breffni Gordon, that while trying to search a suspect, who resisted, both men fell to the floor and wrestled.

The court heard the man succeeded in freeing himself and subsequently released three dogs - two pitbull terriers and a Yorkshire terrier - from a nearby room. The pitbulls attacked Gda Leahy, biting him on the legs.

Gda Keenan, who burst into tears as she recollected the incident, said it was the worst experience in her life.

"It was horrific. I've never ever seen anything like that. The dogs were ripping open his leg. He was screaming and there was blood everywhere," she told Judge Barton.

Gda Leahy, after wrestling with the dog for several minutes, had managed to lie on his back, holding the dog's throat. He had been face to face with the dog and, in fear for his life.

Judge Barton heard it took six gardai to eventually control the dogs. The judge said he was satisfied surgeries had been required following the attack and he awarded Gda Leahy €207,526 damages.

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