TWO race-goers viciously head-butted and punched and then kicked a garda in the back as she lay on the ground at the entrance to a racecourse, a judge heard on Monday.
Sergeant Alma Molloy, who is stationed in Kilkenny was awarded almost €90,000 damages by Ms Justice Mary Irvine in a High Court garda compensation hearing almost ten years after the incident at The Curragh racecourse, Co Kildare.
Counsel for Sgt Molloy, Colm Condon, told the court she had been called to assist colleagues to restrain a man and a woman who were being hostile and aggressive and who appeared to be intoxicated.
Sgt Molloy, formerly of Ramsgrange, New Ross, Co Wexford, and now stationed in Kilkenny city, had attempted to assist another garda to handcuff the woman. The woman had head-butted Sgt Molloy and tried to bite her and stick her nails into her hands and arms.
Mr Condon said the woman had dug the heel of her boot into Sgt Molloy’s back after breaking free from a struggle on the ground. Both she and her male friend had repeatedly punched Sgt Molloy on the ground. The heel kick had caused a compression injury to one of her vertebrae.
Sgt Molloy, now a 36-year-old mother of two, said she still suffered back pain as a result of the injury, for which she had two multiple-session courses of physiotherapy as well as twice receiving injections into her back.
Her back pain had eased following pregnancies with her children, now aged three and five months, but she still regularly suffered back pain. She had been a keen athlete.
Sgt Molloy, who has been promoted since the September 2002 assault, told Cindy Carroll, counsel for the Finance Minister, that she had pre-existing degeneration in her lower back before the assault. Ms Carroll said it was accepted that the attack on Sgt Molloy had been malicious.
Ms Justice Irvine said Sgt Molloy still experienced chronic discomfort in her neck and lower back, had given up running and had not gone back to playing football. She awarded her €55,000 damages for pain to date and a further €27,000 for future suffering, along with €7,000 for medical and other expenses on top of her legal costs.