herald

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Garda denies assaulting RTE cameraman at anti-Islam demo

Garda Sean Lucey (pictured) has pleaded not guilty to one count of assault causing harm to RTE cameraman Colm Hand
Garda Sean Lucey (pictured) has pleaded not guilty to one count of assault causing harm to RTE cameraman Colm Hand

The trial has begun of a garda charged with the assault of an RTE cameraman who was reporting on demonstrations by an anti-Islamisation group and others opposed to racism.

Gda Sean Lucey has pleaded not guilty to one count of assault causing harm to Colm Hand at Cathedral Street, Dublin, on February 6, 2016.

Gda Lucey, of south Dublin, also pleaded not guilty to damaging a camera.

Excessive

Opening the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Fiona McGowan, prosecuting, told the jury that on the day in question, gardai were on notice of a rally by an organisation called Pegida, which opposes what it perceives as "the excessive Islamisation" of European countries.

Ms McGowan said gardai were also on notice of a counter-rally organised by the "anti- racism network in Ireland and other like-minded groups".

Sgt Derek Fleming said that if the two factions had got together, there was a significant risk of violence.

Mr Hand was working with a reporter, Ms McGowan said.

As a result of the tense situation on Cathedral Street, the pair "made a certain decision".

She said there was an incident involving a camera and Mr Hand was struck by a baton in the groin area and was only able to continue filming for a very short time after that.

She told the jurors they would hear about the damage to the camera and the injuries to Mr Hand.

Ms McGowan said she anticipated this was a case in which jurors would consider the circumstances in which a person was justified in using force.

Sgt Fleming said Gda Lucey was detailed to a public order unit with six other members and he was the sergeant in charge.

He said he later received reports of "left-wing protesters" gathering on Cathedral Street, with some of them putting on balaclavas and face masks.

He said some Pegida supp- orters had entered a pub on the street.

James Dwyer, defending, put it to the witness that the protesters did not intend to "have a clear-headed debate about immigration policy".

Sgt Fleming replied: "We were under no illusions, it was going to be violent."

He said his and two other units went to the area. He said the crowd had swelled and became "extremely aggressive".

He said he directed the gardai in his unit to draw batons.

Fifteen men who had their faces covered began pushing their way along the street, trying to hit gardai with fists and take batons from them.

He added that some protesters were struck with batons as they were a direct threat to safety.

The trial continues.

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