Gardai back officer who hit suspect in city chase
SUPPORT: Curtis used correct baton force in arrest, say colleagues
A GARDA accused of beating a suspect following a high-speed chase used justified force, said colleagues.
Several gardai told a jury they saw the accused hit the suspect repeatedly with his baton but claimed this was not excessive as the suspect was "kicking violently".
Garda Gerard Curtis (23) of Ardee, Co Louth, has pleaded not guilty to assault and assault causing harm of Mr John Paul Maughan (19) on Alexandra Road in the Dublin Docks on July 11, 2009.
Mr Maughan was a passenger in a stolen car and was allegedly assaulted following a high-speed chase through the city centre.
The jury was also shown CCTV footage Mr Maughan's capture. They were told the footage shows the lead-up to his arrest after he was pulled from the stolen car.
Garda Niamh Galligan, who was stationed at Store Street with Garda Curtis, told prosecuting counsel, Mr Maurice Coffey, that she was in a patrol car with him when they got a call about a suspected car theft at knifepoint.
They joined the chase and were first on the scene when the stolen car crashed near the water on Alexandria Road. She said Garda Curtis engaged with Mr Maughan and she agreed the footage shows him striking the suspect with a baton.
"He used the correct amount of force as Mr Maughan was kicking out and being violent," she told the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
"He (Mr Maughan) could have gone mad and you wouldn't know what would happen."
When Garda Galligan repeated that her colleague had not used excessive force, Judge Donagh McDonagh asked her: "Does that include putting in the boot?"
Garda Galligan replied that she had not seen that happen. Judge McDonagh then told the jury to disregard his question.
The officer told defence lawyer Breffni Gordon that she had come across Mr Maughan several times in the city centre and said he had always been abusive to gardai.
She called Garda Curtis "a colleague and a friend" who she was standing by but said she was giving her professional opinion in court.
Another garda who arrived on the scene also said Mr Maughan was acting violently enough for the accused to strike him with his baton. Garda PJ Gallagher said Mr Maughan was on the floor but was kicking out violently.
He said Garda Curtis hit him "two or three times" on the legs. He said then he went over to them and Maughan was about to spit at them when they turned him over on his stomach and handcuffed him.
Garda Gallagher said Maughan continued to act aggressively and made threats, including to bite Garda Gallagher's nose.
Garda Marion Harmon told Mr Coffey that she was in a garda car with three other members, who were all "terrified" as they chased the stolen car.
When the stolen car crashed she said she saw Mr Maughan being taken out of the car. She said he was kicking out violently and Garda Curtis hit him "four or five times" with his baton.
She said she feared the suspect kicking her in the head and using force was justified.