'Beaten by gardaí'

A 34-year-old man claims gardaí assaulted him without reason in Dublin city centre. By Frank Connolly

A man suffered severe head, back and chest injuries from an assault by members of the Garda in the Liberties area of Dublin. Glen Kirkwood, 34, who lives in Phibsboro but is originally from the Meath Street area, claims he was beaten with batons after his car was searched for illegal drugs by gardaí close to Swift Alley at 2.30am on Sunday 24 June.

He was arrested and taken to Kilmainham garda station and was then admitted to St James's Hospital where he was treated for his injuries. A brain scan at the hospital did not reveal any internal head injuries and he was released on Sunday night.

According to Kirkwood he was sitting in his Mercedes car with two friends, Karl Donnelly and Lee Kavanagh, when he was approached by two gardaí who are based at Kevin Street garda station. "We were sitting in my car just off Meath Street when two uniformed gardaí came up to us. They said they wanted to search the car for drugs. They asked us to get out of the car. They started taking everything out and I asked them to put the stuff back when they were finished. Then one of them said he wanted to take the car to the station. I gave him the keys but said that I wanted to go with them. The guard said that I would have to go in the police car with handcuffs on and I said, 'Why? I haven't done anything.' They didn't even search me or my two mates.

"The next thing a van arrived with more gardaí. I was arguing and the next thing I got a smack on the back of the head. They put me on the ground and restrained me and I got an unmerciful bang on the head. I asked my friend to take the number of the guard that had hit me and he was bundled into the police car.

"My face was on the ground and they were smacking me with batons. I managed to get my glasses off before they broke in my face. They were dancing on my back. They handcuffed me and ripped me up by the arm and threw me into the transit van. One of the guards said that Kevin Street was full and they took me to Kilmainham. As soon as I got inside the station I collapsed on the floor. I was semi-conscious. I asked for a doctor and a solicitor and eventually I heard the station sergeant say, 'Take him out of here.' They lifted me back up. I was having difficulty breathing. They called an ambulance and told the crew that I had fallen and banged my head."

Kirkwood said that he received seven stitches over his eye, was given an oxygen mask, was connected to a heart machine and had chest x-rays and an MRI scan. He was released from hospital on Sunday evening and the next day still bore severe bruise marks on his head, face, back and chest.

His sister, Joanna, went to Kevin Street garda station where she noticed her brother's Mercedes car. She sought an explanation for her brother's arrest and the seizure of his car but received none. When she went to the scene of the arrest on Monday evening she was stopped and questioned by a garda patrol. Kirkwood said that he had drunk just two pints of shandy on Saturday evening and was waiting to meet friends who were working in the horse-and-carriage business and whose stables are near Meath Street. Kikwood was convicted of a charge of car theft 10 years ago. He was in the company of Lee Kavanagh and Karl Kavanagh when accosted by gardaí. Karl Kavanagh was convicted of larceny 20 years ago. Lee Kavanagh has no criminal record.

A garda spokesman confirmed that two men were arrested at Molyneaux Yard/Swift Alley early on Sunday morning and that a car was seized under Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Karl Donnelly was charged with interfering with an arrest, held for a few hours and released on bail from Kevin Street garda station.

The spokesman said that one of the men was detained in Kilmainham for an hour before being brought to hospital but could not comment on the nature or cause of his injuries.

Kirkwood's solicitor, David O'Shea, confirmed that he has written to the Garda Commissioner setting out the details of the incident and the injuries sustained by his client along with a threat of legal proceedings and a claim for damages.