A JUDGE has thrown out a public order charge against a 21-year-old man who said his arm was broken in the course of his arrest outside a city centre pub last year.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly said he was “appalled” at video footage he had seen of the incident, which showed Garda Niall O’Connor “make a lunge” at Gary Daly and “drag him in a violent manner to the squad car” after the accused started recording the arrest of his friend on his phone.
Gardai said their decision to apprehend Mr Daly - of Shannonvale, Old Cratloe Road - had “nothing whatsoever” to do with the fact he had started shooting the video.
Recording a video was “not an offence”, said Judge O’Kelly, who added that he found it “extraordinary” that the case should follow so soon after the death of Rodney King, whose beating at the hands of the Los Angeles police in 1991 might never have come to light had it not been recorded by a third party.
Mr Daly denied failing to comply with Garda directions outside Molly’s Bar on Ellen Street shortly before 1am on July 28, 2011.
Garda Paul Bentley said he and Garda O’Connor had responded to a call from security staff that four males were creating a disturbance having been refused entry. He had instructed Gary Daly to leave the area “at least four times” but, under cross-examination by solicitor Jerry Twomey, conceded the men had been told to leave the area collectively rather than individually. Mr Daly had been abusive and drunk on the night, was unsteady on his feet and slurring his speech, Garda Bentley said.
Garda O’Connor also insisted the four men had been told to leave the area “on numerous occasions”. Two had done so while the others - Gary Daly and Gareth Howard - had remained, Garda O’Connor said.
Mr Twomey said he had on an earlier date informed the court CCTV footage would be crucial to the defence. Insp Paul Reidy said the state had made footage available to the defence but that the video system in the courtroom was not in working order.
Mr Twomey then made his own laptop available to the judge and the prosecution to view footage he had secured from the pub and this told a tale that was “at odds” with the evidence of gardai.
It showed that Garda Bentley had “no interaction whatsoever” with Mr Daly prior to his arrest.
And it demonstrated that Garda O’Connor spoke to the doormen for a minute and a half after arriving at the scene. Addressing Garda O’Connor, Mr Twomey said; “it shows that you then went to my client; asked him for ID, which he produced as the footage shows; and then 30 seconds later, you push him - violently”.
“It shows that over the course of 100 seconds, you pushed, slapped or dragged people on nine separate occasions and that the only person who was agitated was you; that you arrived and the violence started. And when my client did something small like take video footage, you broke his arm, although I accept probably not deliberately,” Mr Twomey said.
Mr Daly had been left “wincing in pain” and had to sign his name to an adult caution form with his right hand, when he was left-handed.
Insp Reidy said Mr Daly had not complained of any injury and the custody record kept by Sgt John Cleary at Henry Street Garda Station recorded he was not injured when he was released from custody at 1.20am - 30 minutes after his arrest.
Mr Twomey produced medical reports from the following day that showed he had fractured his arm. He also said the station record described Mr Daly as being sober upon his release from custody.
While the gardai had initially indicated the matter could be dealt with by way of adult caution, it was Mr Daly’s “decision to make a complaint to the Garda Ombudsman that his arm had been broken without reason” that led to him being charged with the offence. Gareth Howard had never been charged, Mr Twomey added.
Insp Reidy told Judge O’Kelly that while Mr Daly had initially indicated he would accept being considered for an adult caution, he had “subsequently changed his mind”.
Judge O’Kelly said he had “no hesitation” in accepting Mr Twomey’s application to dismiss the charge.
“In the space of 30 minutes, he (Mr Daly) had gone from being highly intoxicated according to the evidence of two gardai, to being sober, according to the record of a very experienced sergeant,” the judge said.
He was “very disturbed by the video footage and the manner of the accused’s apprehension”.
“He appears to be standing by recording the apprehension of a third party and that in itself is not an offence. I find it extraordinary this comes in the week Rodney King died, somebody who was the victim of an extraordinary injustice by another police force and which would not have come to light had it not been recorded.”
The video appeared to show Mr Daly standing “steadily” on his feet and the judge said he was “appalled by the footage I have seen”.