TWO GARDAÍ who were convicted of assaulting a man who was filming a disturbance at a pub in Dublin have had their criminal convictions quashed, ensuring they will not lose their jobs.
The two officers, Garda Gavin Keegan and Garda Damien Kildea, were both convicted and fined last year for assaulting Eoin Lawless outside the Cat and Cage Pub in Drumcondra, north Dublin, on 28 June, 2008.
Lawless was filming a disturbance at the pub, which gardaí had been trying to bring under control. The gardaí forcibly took the man's phone from him. Keegan then deleted the images.
Lawless made a complaint to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, which launched an investigation.
At Dublin District Court in December 2009, Keegan, of Mountjoy station, was found guilty of assault and fined €650. He was told to pay €500 compensation. He was also convicted of causing criminal damage to the camera and fined €200.
Kildea, of Store Street station, was convicted of assault, fined €500 and told to pay €500 compensation.
However, both officers lodged appeals. On Wednesday, judge Terence O'Sullivan at the Circuit Court quashed both men's criminal convictions and the fines imposed and applied section 1.1 of the Probation Act instead. The judge found that both gardaí were still guilty of committing an offence but their criminal convictions do not stand. Both gardaí apologised to Lawless, who was not involved in the altercation at the pub.
Had both appeals not been successful, the two gardaí faced the possibility of losing their jobs as convicted criminals.
There was no suggestion that Lawless was in any way seriously assaulted by the two gardaí but received minor bruising while his phone was forcibly taken from him.