Businessman to pay victim €15,500 after dispute over disabled bay parking
A Donegal businessman has been ordered to pay another man €15,500 after he broke a rib when he was dared to park illegally in a disabled bay.
Gus O’Driscoll was also ordered to pay Mr Frankie Doherty’s legal costs.
O’Driscoll appeared in Letterkenny Circuit Civil Court after Mr Doherty sued his attacker for damages.
O’Driscoll, owner of the famous ‘Wet n Wild’ outdoor store in Letterkenny, had previously pleaded guilty to the attack on Mr Doherty in Letterkenny District Court in February 2013.
The accused was ordered to pay €1,000 to Mr. Doherty following the attack on May 4, 2012.
The District Court heard that O’Driscoll claimed he had only been parked in the disabled space for a short time in the Market Square as he crossed the road to a local bakery for buy his wife her favorite pastry.
When he returned, Mr. Doherty pointed out to him that he was parked in a handicapped spot and O’Driscoll got out of his jeep and pushed Mr. Doherty to the ground.
CCTV footage of the incident was released to Letterkenny Circuit Court as part of Mr Doherty’s claim against O’Driscoll.
The footage, which was checked by Donegal County Council employee Mr Sean Flanagan, was replayed several times.
Testifying before Judge Mary Morrissey, Mr Doherty admitted to approaching O’Driscoll’s jeep to reprimand him.
He told O’Driscoll that it was “bolloxes” like him who prevented disabled people from being able to park in the city.
He then remembered O’Driscoll jumping out of his jeep and pushing him to the ground.
“I was in shock. I stood up and my arm and chest hurt. I was really in shock,” Mr Doherty said.
He called Gardai who arrived about fifteen minutes later and he explained to them what had happened.
The court later heard that Mr Doherty’s wife was disabled.
Giving evidence, Garda Gerry Fee said they found Mr O’Driscoll through a partial license plate number given to him and interviewed him at his shop.
In his O’Driscoll statement from Ballykeerin, Kilmacrennan claimed he pushed the victim, but only after Mr Doherty spat on him, forcing him to lose control.
Responding to questions from Mr Doherty’s solicitor, Mr Paul McLaughlin, who was instructed by Mr Ciaran Haran of Kieran O’Gorman Solicitors, the Garda said he had viewed the CCTV footage and had not saw no assault to justify what he had received and said there was no trace of spitting.
He added that O’Driscoll was a ‘tall, strong man’ and that Mr Doherty was thin and half the height of his attacker.
Under cross-examination, O’Driscoll, who represented himself in court, claimed he asked Garda Fee to see the pin on his car window, but he refused.
A taxi driver who was also parked nearby, a Mr Noel Doherty, told the court he heard shouting and looked across the road and saw O’Driscoll pushing Mr Doherty on the ground.
He, too, said he did not see Mr. Doherty spit on O’Driscoll as he claimed.
The court was told that shortly after the attack on May 4, Mr Doherty telephoned his brother-in-law, Dr James McDaid, to seek medical advice.
Dr McDaid said he told Mr Doherty to take painkillers, but three days later Mr Doherty came back to him saying he was still in a lot of pain.
The doctor referred him to an orthopedic surgeon for a checkup and it was discovered after an X-ray that Mr Doherty had a broken rib.
Dr McDaid said when he saw Mr Doherty he was in a lot of pain and had a bad weekend.
Judge Morrissey asked O’Driscoll if he would call witnesses, but he replied that he would not.
In summary, Mr Doherty’s solicitor, Mr Paul McLaughlin referred to the CCTV and everything it showed and said there was clearly no evidence of spitting before O’ Driscoll only pushes his client “forcefully”.
He added that at no time did Mr. Doherty leave the pavement, that he had his hands in his pockets at all times and that at no time did he protest when he was pushed.
“I say the evidence is absolutely clear and there is no defence,” he added.
In his summary, O’Driscoll admitted he had parked in the disabled bay and pleaded to the assault and paid Mr Doherty €1,000.
However, he added he was standing firm on his stance in self-defense and claimed he felt ‘abandoned’ by the Garda and the state because they did not examine the window of his jeep .
Delivering his judgment, Judge Morrissey said it was a “very sad case” which had been entirely preventable but was confirmed by CCTV footage.
She added that she had no doubt that the incident happened in the manner indicated in the argument.
She referred to both the Garda Fee testimony and the medical evidence given by Dr McDaid saying she was satisfied based on the evidence that the incident had happened and that the injuries had been sustained. .
She added that O’Driscoll said he was sorry and pleaded guilty, but added that he was given the opportunity to leave but exasperated the situation.
It awards Mr. Doherty the sum of €12,500 in damages and an additional €3,000 for the psychological damage and stress caused.
Mr. Doherty, also secured his legal costs in the case.