Ex-Boyle Garda awarded €230k after ‘car-ramming’ incident

A former Boyle-based garda has been awarded over €230,000 after a court heard she feared for her life after an incident on which a car drove at her following a pursuit in 2002.

Justice Bernard Barton found in favour of Martha O’Gorman in her case, which was taken against the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

Martin Moran, solicitor for Ms O’Gorman, explained to the court that his client was living and working in Boyle at the time of the incident in November 2002.

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She was on patrol and was called to a shop at Greatmeadow to check out a suspicious vehicle, which according to a Garda computer had been involved in an alleged theft in Athlone and was also untaxed and the driver did not have a licence.

Ms O’Gorman decided to seize the vehicle and the driver agreed to follow her to the Garda station. However, he attempted to evade Ms O’Gorman and she had to pursue him at high speed.

Near Hill Street in Boyle the vehicle was reversed at speed towards Ms O’Gorman’s patrol car, which she jumped out of as she feared it would be rammed.

She told the court that the car then turned around and was driving straight towards her when she had to jump out of the way and climb up on higher ground to avoid a collision.

The court was told that the distress caused by the incident led to the Garda being absent from work for over a year and she subsequently retired as a result.

Ms O’Gorman said she had suffered panic attacks, nightmares, fatigue, loss of confidence, loss of short-term memory, difficulty in sleeping and bouts of depression.

Mr Justice Barton said he accepted that factors from the 2002 incident had contributed to her early retirement and awarded her €100,000 for loss of earnings, €70,000 general damages and €60,000 for loss of pension and gratuity rights.

Mr Moran also applied for agreed special damages of €1,593, bringing the total award to of €231,593.