Gardai ‘not guilty’ of assaulting Limerick brothers

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Garda David Naugton (left) and Garda Wesley Kenny were found not guilty of assaulting two Limerick brothers during a Christmas night out in Limerick last year [Picture: Press 22]
TWO Dublin-based gardai have been found not guilty of assaulting two brothers during a Christmas party in Limerick last year.

TWO Dublin-based gardai have been found not guilty of assaulting two brothers during a Christmas party in Limerick last year.

Throughout a three-day-hearing, David Naughton, aged 33, from Lucan and Wesley Kenny, aged 36, who has an address in Sandyford had denied assaulting Luke Morrison (19) and his brother James Morrison (22) on December 5, 2013.

Limerick District Court heard that both men are stationed at garda stations in the capital and were attending a Christmas night out when the alleged offences occurred.

It was the prosecution case that the two off duty gardai had reacted angrily and “lost control” after they were unable to find prostitutes.

In his evidence on the opening day of the trial, Luke Morrison claimed the officers tried to force their way into his home at Upper Cecil Street after asking where he could find “brazzers” - slang for prostitutes.

Both brothers testified they were attacked by the two gardai around 20 minutes later outside Jerry Flannery’s bar on Catherine Street.

However, in their direct evidence on Thursday evening both defendants strongly denied the Morrison’s version of events.

Garda Naughton - who is originally from Limerick - told the court that after leaving the Clarion Hotel where they were staying he and Garda Kenny were walking on Cecil Street when they encountered a friend of the Morrison’s who asked them for a light.

He described how shortly afterwards Luke Morrison and his girlfriend arrived and entered their home on Cecil Street before the 19-year-old re-emerged wielding a large knife.

He said having retreated to Jerry Flannery’s bar he and his colleague discussed what had happened and decided to return to the area in order to alert local gardai.

As they were returning at around 9.45pm, they encountered Luke Morrison and his older brother James who had earlier told the court they were walking to a fast food restaurant at the time..

Garda Naughton said they were met with “pure aggression” and that he was in fear the knife would be brandished again as Luke Morrison had his hand behind his back. He also said Luke Morrison demanded that he and his colleague hand over their money and wallets.

CCTV shown to the court during the hearing shows the defendants - assisted by two other colleagues, also based in Dublin, restraining the Morrison brothers on the ground a short time later.

In their evidence, each of the defendants denied they had effected an arrest and insisted their only intention was to restrain the brothers until local Gardai arrived.

They also rejected earlier suggestions that they had declined to make a formal statement of complaint in relation to to the alleged attempted robbery.

In her ruling Judge Grainne O’Neill commented that the CCTV footage was the closest thing the court had to an objective eye witness account of what happened.

She said having viewed the footage it appeared the first physical contact was David Naughton grabbing the wrist of Luke Morrison which she said was consistent with his version of events.

She said it was regrettable that the defendants had not relayed their concerns to gardai on foot patrol in the vicinity at the time, adding all that “unfolded could have perhaps been avoided”.

Judge O’Neill dismissed all four charges as she was not satisfied the State had proven its case beyond all reasonable doubt.