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Garda awarded €106,000 Compensation for personal injuries at the High Court

A GARDA sergeant who was stabbed in the side by a man who then took his own life was awarded just over €106,000 damages at a High Court Garda compensation hearing yesterday.

Sgt John Liston (55), Bearforest, Mallow, Co Cork, wept in court as he recalled his unsuccessful attempt to disarm a young Fermoy man wielding a knife in each hand on New Year’s Eve 2006.

Dr John O’Mahony, SC, told Ms Justice Mary Irvine how Trevor Clancy (26), Pike Road, Fermoy, eventually took his own life by placing the knives against his chest and pushing himself against a wall. He said Sgt Liston had been stabbed in an attempt to disarm Clancy as Garda colleagues pleaded with him to hand over the knives.

Dr O’Mahony, who appeared with Harold Brooks, said Sgt Liston had afterwards been given an excellence award by his colleagues for his bravery in dealing with the incident and for how he had handled his recovery from injuries which could have proved fatal.

The court heard how Sgt Liston and two colleagues had spoken to Clancy in Fermoy in the early hours of New Year’s Eve. He had been dressed in a long black open leather coat and had a narrow-brimmed hat on his shaven head.

They had joked about exchanging hats and Clancy had given his name as Gabriel, making some remark about the angel Gabriel before moving on.

Later Sgt Liston had heard on his radio that a man had produced a knife in each hand after having been refused entry to a nightclub in the town.

Sgt Liston told Dr O’Mahony that gardaí had confronted the man on McCurtain Street and had drawn batons for their own protection as they pleaded with him to put down the knives.

Gardaí had rushed him as he tried to take off his overcoat hoping to overpower him but instead the man had grabbed Sgt Liston around the neck.

Later he felt a pain in his left side and felt warm liquid on his uniform and realised he had been stabbed. Another garda had helped Sgt Liston back to the station where he received treatment before being taken to hospital.

Sgt Liston was unable to continue his evidence for a short time after telling how he heard while in Cork University Hospital that Clancy had taken his own life.

He said he knew Clancy’s father and had been unable to fully get over his inability to save the man.

He had undergone surgery for the stab wound and had since been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He said he still suffered sleeplessness and flashbacks.

Mr Justice Irvine told Dr O’Mahony she considered Sgt Liston to have improved greatly since the incident. She accepted he had suffered serious physical injuries and continued periodically to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. The judge awarded him general damages of €100,000 and €6,400 for special damages and expenses.

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This Article appeared in the Irish Times written by Ray Managh

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