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suspended sentence for garda guilty of cameraman assault

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An Garda Siochana would not say if Sean Lucey was sacked after his conviction

An Garda Siochana would not say if Sean Lucey was sacked after his conviction

An Garda Siochana would not say if Sean Lucey was sacked after his conviction

An Garda Siochana is refusing to say if a Public Order Unit garda who was given a 12-month suspended sentence yesterday for assaulting an RTE cameraman has been sacked.

Garda Sean Lucey (42) received a fully suspended year-long sentence for assaulting RTE cameraman Colm Hand during an anti-racism protest in Dublin city centre in February, 2016.

When asked if Lucey is still employed by An Garda Sioch- ana, a spokesperson for the force said it does "not discuss or comment on matters of internal discipline".

Lessons

The refusal to comment comes after Mr Hand said he was pleased with the ruling, but hopes "lessons will be learned" from the incident.

"I have enormous respect for the gardai. Through my work as a cameraman I see every day the important and difficult job that they do," he told the Herald.

"However, it is vital that journalists, photographers and camera people are able to cover protests and public-interest events without fear of attack.

"I'm pleased with today's outcome and I look forward to putting the incident behind me.

"I'd like to thank Judge [Melanie] Greally for her considered judgment, and Stuart Duguid from the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission for his professionalism and fairness in investigating this case.

"My thanks also to all of the witnesses in the trial, in particular those who shot videos of the assault and were brave enough to come to court and stand behind them."

Lucey, who has been stationed at Crumlin Village and Sundrive Road garda stations, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of assault causing harm to Mr Hand at Cathedral Street, Dublin city centre, on February 6, 2016 and to damaging his camera.

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Colm Hand

Colm Hand

Colm Hand

Following a five-day trial last December, a jury convicted him of assaulting Mr Hand and acquitted him of criminal damage.

Lucey stepped out from a line of Public Order Unit gardai and struck the camera of Colm Hand, an experienced RTE cameraman covering the protests.

He then swung his baton with full force and struck Mr Hand to the groin.

The victim sustained significant bruising and pain.

Regret

Judge Greally rejected a characterisation by Lucey of the assault on Colm Hand as an error of judgment and excessive conduct.

She said Lucey's statement of regret fell short of an apology, and an offer to make a donation to a charity of Mr Hand's choice did not represent a suitable gesture of remorse.

"There are public interest issues at play in this case. A transgression of this kind must be seen to carry serious consequences," she said.

The judge added that she would suspend the prison sentence on the basis of Lucey's absence of previous offending and his unblemished record of service with gardai.

Judge Greally said that given these facts, she viewed Lucey's offending as an aberration.