A 36-year old convicted burglar who has served time in prison for targeting an 80 year old priest’s parochial home has been awarded €5,750 in personal injuries arising from ’very slight injuries’ he suffered in a Garda van crash.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Francis Comerford has ordered the Garda Commissioner pay Kilrush man, Jonathan Kenny €5,750 arising from the ‘minor injuries’ that Mr Kenny suffered when the Garda van in which he was travelling was involved in a road crash with another vehicle at an intersection on Ennis’s Mill Rd on November 19th 2014.
Mr Kenny told the court that at the time of the collision, he was placed in the back of the van by Gardai and had handcuffs placed on his hands behind his back but was unrestrained in the seat he was sitting on.
Mr Kenny said that he had just been arrested by Gardai as he was exiting the grounds of Ennis General Hospital. After the crash, Mr Kenny was transferred to a Garda patrol car and brought to Kilrush Garda Station.
In the case, the Garda Commissioner on behalf of the State had denied liability.
In evidence, Mr Kenny admitted to having 60 to 70 previous convictions but told Judge Comerford that he has been clean the past three years and hasn’t been in custody for the past two years.
He said that he “never had to be restrained or violent towards a Garda”. He said that his longest period in prison was three years.
He said: “I have a life now – no trouble.”
In upholding Mr Kenny’s personal injury claim, Judge Comerford said that this was a very minor crash and Mr Kenny, represented by Lorcan Connolly BL (inst by Patrick Moylan) sustained “very minor injuries in the scheme of things”.
Judge Comerford stated that just because there was a minor injury in the case, “it doesn’t obviate the need to have some care for the person who is being transported”
Judge Comerford stated that from the photos and evidence in the case there was no ability for Mr Kenny to protect himself in a collision or a sudden braking.
Judge Comerford stated that there was no real attempt by the State in the case to justify the risk imposed on someone by not having any restraints of any kind.
The judge stated that on that basis, Mr Kenny “is entitled while in custody to be safely secured”.
Upholding Mr Kenny’s personal injury claim, Judge Comerford stated that there was a failure to guard against this risk of a crash or a sudden braking that was very foreseeable.
Judge Comerford stated that the injuries in the case “are very slight” noting that Mr Kenny sustained a cut to his ear, a blow to his head and suffered discomfort for less than three months.
Judge Comerford stated that if the case had been brought under the judicial guidelines on personal injury damages, the amount of damages “would be quite slight”.
However, Judge Comerford stated that the proceedings were instituted prior to the judicial guidelines and awarded Mr Kenny €5,750 after concluding that the case “is at the lower end of damages”.
In February 2021, Mr Kenny was jailed for two and a half years after targeting the home of an 80 year old priest’s parochial home, with the sentence back-dated to August 2020.
Judge Comerford put a stay on the award pending an appeal.