By Ryan Dunne firstname.lastname@example.org @laoisnews
The four gardaí injured in Mountrath when two garda vehicles were rammed by a stolen jeep deserve all our sympathy, support and admiration, said Judge Keenan Johnson at Portlaoise Circuit Court.
During the sentencing of Thomas McInerney (40), Twomey Park, Mountmellick; William McInerney (37), Newline Close, Mountrath; and Gerard McInerney (38), Moanbaun Close, Mountrath, Judge Johnson praised the four officers, saying that their job is not an easy one and they have to tread a very fine line between preserving the rights of the individual while at the same time ensuring maintenance of law and order.
The four gardaí were injured when their unmarked garda car and garda jeep were rammed by a stolen jeep being driven by Thomas McInerney, with William and Gerard McInerney passengers in the stolen jeep.
The incident happened in July 2016, after a garda a surveillance operation on a stolen jeep and trailer which were found secreted in Cloncourse Woods in Mountrath.
On July 11, a van and a jeep were observed going to this location, both vehicles with their headlights off. The stolen jeep with the trailer attached made its way out of the wooded area a short time later, and two garda vehicles, both with the blue lights activated, tried to block the access road.
Judge Johnson said it had to be clear to the driver of the stolen jeep and trailer, who was identified as Thomas McInerney, that the gardaí were blocking the road. Unfortunately, instead of doing the sane and safe thing by stopping, the driver revved his engine and proceeded to ram the unmarked patrol car and garda jeep.
The judge said it was clear the garda vehicles were severly impacted on their respective front driver's wings. The seriousness and gravity of the impact was further compounded by the stolen jeep being equipped with bull bars to its front.
Detective Garda Mark Russell, in the unmarked patrol car, sustained soft tissue injury to his neck and lower back. He was administered painkillers and returned to part time duty on August 28, and then full time duty in February 2017.
An examination of him in August 2016 incidcated that he was in minimum pain, but still had limitation of movement.
Garda Vincent O’Brien, attached to the armed response unit, sustained injury to his back, neck and shoulder area. He has suffered serious physiological and psychological injuries. In his victim impact statement he said he thought he would be killed during the incident and still has trouble sleeping.
The event has been life-changing for Garda O'Brien. Prior to the incident, he was able to leave his job behind when he went home, unfortunately he now finds that as a consequence of the injuries which he sustained, his work tends to follow him home and it is difficult to separate home life from work life.
He states that he has changed as a person and that he has undergone multiple sessions of physiotherapy and acupunture. He was off work for a number of months, but is now back in full service.
Detective Garda Eoin Maher was the driver of the unmarked patrol car when it was rammed. He sustained significant injuries to left shoulder, neck, lower back and cervical spine.
He is still off work and has difficulty taking part in daily activities. He can no longer run or jog and he is only able to walk short distances. He has to use a stick to get about and he can't drive for long distances without enduring significant pain.
He describes each day as being littered with setbacks. When he is sleeping or standing he is still affected by his injuries. He has ceased involvement with the local hurling club where he was an official referee prior to the incident. He is passionate about hurling, but since the incident all usual physical activity has ceased.
He is working through his injuries with the help of two physiotherapists. Obviously, his prognosis is still guarded.
Sgt Pauric O’Boyle fractured his ankle in the ramming incident, but insisted on returning to duty without taking any time off. Apparently he returned to duty despite the best efforts of his superiors to try and get him to take some time off .
Judge Johnson said that Sgt Boyle is clearly a very dedicated officer and a credit to An Garda Siochána.
“It is clear that the four gardaí who were injured in the surveillance operation deserve not only our sympathy, but also our support and admiration,” he said.
“While I appreciate that the Garda Compensation Scheme will provide monetary compensation to the injured gardaí for their out-of-pocket expenses together with pain and suffering, I think it is fair to say that no money will compensate them for what they have been through.”
Concluded the judge: “In respect of the current offences before the court I think it is fair to say that the gardaí did an excellent job and Chief Superintendent Scanlon and his team deserve our thanks and commendation. Finally, I would like to wish the four gardaí who were injured all the best for the future and in particular I hope that Detective Garda Maher makes a full recovery.”