© The Irish Times
A 38-year-old Garda and former Kilkenny hurler, who lost partial vision after he was run down by a getaway car in a robbery at a Glanbia plant, was on Monday awarded almost €280,000 damages in the High Court.
Garda Owen Behan, who is based at Abbeyleix Garda station, told the court that in June 2007 he had been manning a checkpoint outside the Glanbia plant at Ballyragget, Co Kilkenny, when the incident occurred.
Garda Behan told his counsel, John Peart SC, that he had been standing on the road when one car failed to stop and drove at him, knocking him into the air. He landed back onto the getaway car, hitting his head on the windscreen.
The court heard Garda Behan was unconscious and had been taken by ambulance to St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny. His face had been swollen and he had suffered a deep laceration around his right eye which had needed more than 30 stitches.
Garda Behan, of Foulkscourt, Johnstown, Co Kilkenny, told Mr JusticeBernard Barton during a Garda compensation hearing that X-rays later revealed a fracture under his eye socket and he had been transferred to St James’ Hospital in Dublin.
He said he lost peripheral vision in his right eye following the assault and had also suffered ongoing numbness over his eye area. He was no longer able to drive at night and needed to wear sunglasses in daylight.
The court heard that Garda Behan, who suffered permanent nerve damage in his eye, has been refused entry to nightclubs because his laceration wound had left a scar of more than 11 centimetres.
Garda Behan said he also suffered a soft-tissue injury to his lower back which caused him discomfort on a daily basis.
Barrister Esther Earley, for the State, said An Garda Siochana had been concerned about Garda Behan’s eye injury. He had been put on restricted duties by his employer and was not allowed to drive a Garda car.
Mr Peart, who appeared with barrister Barry Finlay and solicitor Declan Breen, said that before the incident, his client had been playing hurling with Kilkenny at a senior level and had won medals in National and Leinster league finals.The court heard that following his injuries, Garda Behan had been unable to play any sport.Judge Barton, awarding €279,000, said he had been a distinguished hurler whose professional and sporting career, as well as his social life, had been seriously affected by the assault.