Limerick based garda sergeant found not guilty of assault

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Sergeant Dermot Keating, who is attached to Henry Street garda station was prosecuted in relation to an incident on April 17, 2016

Sergeant Dermot Keating, who is attached to Henry Street garda station was prosecuted in relation to an incident on April 17, 2016

A GARDA sergeant was found not guilty of assaulting a prisoner at a Limerick garda station after a judge said she was not satisfied the case had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Sergeant Dermot Keating, aged 41, who is attached to Henry Street garda station was prosecuted in relation to an incident on April 17, 2016.

Limerick District Court was told a GSOC investigation was launched after Gearoid Breen complained he had been beaten by several gardai while in custody following his arrest in relation to theft matters.

Judge Fiona Lydon was told the 23-year-old who has an address at Lissycasey, County Clare was violent and aggressive when arrested and had to be “put to the ground” before he was placed in the patrol car and brought to the garda station.

During a two-day hearing he claimed he had been choked while in the custody area and beaten “black and blue”.

In his evidence, Sgt Keating, who has  been on the force for more than 17 years, insisted he did nothing wrong.

He confirmed there was a physical altercation shortly after 5pm when he entered Mr Breen’s cell to check on him after he complained he was having a panic attack.

He described how Mr Breen then lunged forward and grabbed his shirt. They grappled and both men ended up moving from the cell across the corridor to another cell.

A colleague intervened and struck Mr Breen with his asp baton to calm him down.

A  further incident occurred around 30 minutes later when Sgt Keating went to the cell to  inform Mr Breen his solicitor was on the phone.

He told David McHugh BL, instructed by solicitor Sarah Ryan, that Mr Breen jumped onto one of the beds, clenched his fists, flexed his muscles and adopted an aggressive stance.

Sgt Keating said he struck him across the legs with his baton a number of times but insisted his actions had been appropriate and justified.

“My fear was there was a real risk and a likelihood there was going to be a further assault and violence perpetrated on me,” he said.

Having considered the matter including written legal submissions, Judge Lydon said Sgt Keating’s evidence had been consistent throughout. 

She dismissed the charge.