22 May 2003 Edition

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PSNI assault disabled man

Sinn Féin councillor Pat O'Rawe has slammed the PSNI after two young men were seriously asaulted during an incident in the early hours of Sunday morning two weeks ago.

PSNI members attacked Noel Duffy and a companion (who doesn't want his name published) at Corr Road, several miles from Middletown. Duffy, from Tullysaron, about seven miles from Armagh City, was chased and stopped by the PSNI, who then proceeded to assault both men.

"What is particularly galling about this assault," says O'Rawe, "is the fact that Mr Duffy is physically disabled and is unable to walk. Nevertheless members of this PSNI unit beat him in the car and then trailed him out of the car where they continued with their assault. He was dragged up and down the road by his feet before finally being arrested."

His companion was set upon by at least two PSNI members, who severely beat him with their batons. "To add insult to injury," says O'Rawe, "the PSNI then handcuffed Duffy, which was the equivalent of completely trussing up an able, bodied person".

Despite his physical handicap, the PSNI refused to remove the handcuffs and both men were taken to the PSNI Barracks in Armagh. Duffy was subjected to a tirade of abuse about his physical handicap and was assaulted at least twice more. He was dragged into the barracks and subjected to more verbal abuse.

Eventually realising that his injuries were serious, an ambulance was called and Duffy was taken to Craigavon Area Hospital, where he received two stitches to a head wound and had to be treated for cuts and bruises all over his body. Part of Duffy's injuries included skin torn away from the top of his buttocks, where he had been trailed up and down the road, and bruising and swelling to his right ankle. Meanwhile, his companion was held in the barracks for several hours more before being released. He too required medical treatment to injuries to his back and stomach, where he had been beaten with batons.

"The treatment of these two men by the PSNI is absolutely disgraceful and cannot be justified," says Councillor O'Rawe. "If this is the new police force so much heralded by its exponents then I'm afraid the mask slipped last Sunday night and revealed the true nature of the 'wolf in sheep's clothing'. If past experience is anything to go by, then the PSNI will say that they were defending themselves. But how can a man who is paralysed from the waist down be a threat to several able bodied men? They even went so far as to handcuff him, which completely immobilised him. This meant that when he fell to one side he was unable to right himself. This was tantamount to abuse of his physical condition."

Since this assault, Duffy has been charged with two accounts of assault. The PSNI are claiming that he attacked them. Duffy has lodged an official complaint through his solicitor. A complaint about his treatment has also been made to The Police Ombudsman's Office .His companion has also been charged with assault and criminal damage.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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