Thomas Mansfield a 57 year old retired Garda Sergeant has been awarded €169,000 damages by the High Court. He brought proceedings for compensation in respect of personal injuries, loss and damage, suffered and sustained by him as a consequence of an IRA terrorist attack in 1983 in Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim which involved the use of firearms. The attack resulted in the deaths of a Garda and a member of the Defence Forces.
Mr. Mansfield gave evidence of what had occurred on that day when he and other members of the Gardai and members of the Defence Forces were detailed to participate in a search of Derra Wood for Don Tidey a kidnap victim.
Mr. Mansfield and his Garda colleagues came under fire from terrorists who had hi-jacked a Garda car. Mr. Mansfield gave evidence as to how he heard bullets striking the ground around the ditch in which he was lying, was terrified and was frozen with fear. He thought he was going to be hit and very likely killed. Eventually, firing stopped and he was able to get out of the ditch in which he was lying in. His immediate thought was that some of his colleagues had been murdered. He subsequently learned of the murder of Garda Gerry Sheehan and Private Kelly.
In the months following the murders Mr. Mansfield completed his Garda training and was subsequently stationed in Dublin. Throughout the months following the events in Ballinamore he gave evidence that he was very stressed and angry about his experiences and what he had witnessed along with a lack of an appropriate response from the Garda Authorities to help him deal with his trauma. His sleep became disturbed and he had nightmares. He became intolerant and temperamental. He was provided with no professional support either by way of counselling or psychological services. The failure to provide same was a particular source of resentment and anger for him.
There were also a number of other less traumatic events for him during the course of his career as a Garda Sergeant but the Court accepted that the principal cause of his post-traumatic stress disorder were the events of December 1983. These were compounded by a training course run by the Gardai in 2007 in Bray where a video was shown recounting the events surrounding the kidnap of Mr. Tidey and his rescue. Unfortunately for Mr. Mansfield nobody had warned him about the video or its content.
The State argued that the other traumatic events sustained by Mr. Mansfield during the course of his career played a much larger part in his subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder and that the Judge should reduce any award of damages significantly to take that into account. However, the Judge did not accept that argument and apportioned 75% of the causation in the case to the events of 1983 and 25% to the other events for which the State was not responsible and for which he had made no claim for compensation.
Mr. Mansfield was awarded a total sum of €150,000 for general damages, €73,918 for loss of earnings and other expenses of €1,580 which made a total award of €225,498 which was reduced by 25% making a net award of damages of €169,518.