Thursday 23 January 2020

Garda guilty of assaulting RTE cameraman as he filmed protest

Garda Sean Lucey (pictured) has been found guilty of assaulting RTE cameraman Colm Hand during a street protest in 2016
Garda Sean Lucey (pictured) has been found guilty of assaulting RTE cameraman Colm Hand during a street protest in 2016

A jury has convicted a garda of assaulting an RTE cameraman during street protests.

Garda Sean Lucey (42) was detailed to a public order unit to deal with confrontations between anti-racism protesters and gardai who were trying to prevent protesters from getting to supporters of a "far-right group".

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

Lucey, who has an address in south Dublin, has been stationed at Crumlin Village and Sundrive Road.

On the fifth day of the trial, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on the count of assault causing harm after deliberating for two hours and 46 minutes. It found Lucey not guilty of criminal damage.

Judge Melanie Greally adjourned the case for sentencing on February 7 and remanded Lucey on continuing bail.

During the trial, Mr Hand said he and reporter Colman O'Sullivan followed people who were running toward Cathedral Street and there was a confrontation between gardai and protesters.

He said the scene was tense and a garda went to use his baton and he began shouting to Mr O'Sullivan "back back back".

He said he was reversing when he felt the camera being hit by a baton from behind.

"I turned to my right. I said, 'you shouldn't hit cameras' or something like that," he said.

He said he then saw someone coming out of the corner of his eye and was struck in the groin.

Mr Hand said it was really painful and he was able to continue filming only for a very brief period. He said he saw the garda who struck him and took his badge number.

Garda Michael Dibley testified that he was extremely concerned for the safety of himself and colleagues.

He said gardai were entitled to keep people six feet away and could use their discretion to employ the baton if they felt someone was coming into that area, was a threat or was trying to force through their barrier.

They were entitled to strike the upper arms or legs, he said.


In her closing speech, Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, said there was no question that footage showed gardai gesticulating and saying "get back".

Ms McGowan told the jury it could see on the footage that when Mr Hand retreated, Lucey steps forward and strikes him with the baton into his groin after first hitting his camera.

In his closing speech, James Dwyer SC, defending, said that if Lucey honestly believed he was acting using lawful force, the jury must give him the benefit of the doubt on both charges.

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