herald

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Garda assault trial jury told to forget views 'good or ill'

Gda Sean Lucey leaves court yesterday after the hearing.
Gda Sean Lucey leaves court yesterday after the hearing.

The jury in the trial of a garda accused of assaulting a cameraman during street protests have heard they must "leave at the door" any general views, good or ill, that they may have towards gardai.

Gda Sean Lucey (42) was detailed to a public order unit to deal with confrontations between anti-racism protesters and gardai.

The officers were trying to prevent protesters from getting to supporters of a "far right group".

Gda Lucey has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of assault causing harm to Colm Hand at Cathedral Street, Dublin city centre, on February 6, 2016 and damaging his camera.

Sympathy

Gda Lucey, from south Dublin, has been stationed at Crumlin Village and Sundrive Road Garda Stations.

In her closing speech to the jury on day four of the trial, Fiona McGowan, prosecuting, said it would be hard not to have sympathy for all gardai, including Gda Lucey, who were required to assist with a violent confrontation.

She said it would also be difficult not to sympathise with Mr Hand, who was going about his work and ended up being assaulted in the groin.

The jury should approach the evidence in a cold and clinical way without sympathy.

She said there was no question that footage taken on the day shows gardai gesticulating and saying "get back". She submitted that Mr Hand can be seen complying with that direction and retreating.

Ms McGowan told the jury they can see on the footage that when Mr Hand has retreated, Gda Lucey steps forward from the garda line and strikes him with the baton in the groin after hitting his camera.

RTE cameraman Colm Hand
RTE cameraman Colm Hand

She submitted that, even putting yourself in Gda Lucey's shoes, there was evidence that could satisfy the jury of his guilt on both charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

In his closing speech to the jury, James Dwyer, defending, told the jury they must "leave at the door" any general views they may have, good or ill, towards An Garda Siochana.

He said his client has nearly two decades of unblemished service to the state.

Mr Dwyer said a big issue in this trial was the lawful use of force. He said if Gda Lucey honestly believed he was acting using lawful force, the jury must give him the benefit of the doubt on both charges.

Identification

He said that from the garda perspective, they do not know who Mr Hand is, there is no RTE logo or press identification to identify him and there are other cameras there.

He asked if, in a volatile situation, gardai are supposed to form the impression that only people who have large cameras are public service broadcasters.

Mr Dwyer said Gda Lucey was instructed to draw his baton and he did precisely what he was trained to do.

He said that after the first strike, Mr Hand moves back a foot and pivots around to point his camera at gardai.

He said Mr Hand is told to move back, he ignores the instruction and the second strike comes.

He said there was a volatile situation faced by gardai and he submitted that they acted with restraint.

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