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PTSD Claim: Denied

daftandbarmy

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Geez, what a wimp. Suck it up buttercup...

"(iv)    Accordingly, not without regret, I am compelled to dismiss this claim and there will be judgement for the defendant."


IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE IN NORTHERN IRELAND

QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION

_________


POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER GROUP ACTION

BETWEEN:

CHARLES WAYNE McCLURG AND OTHERS
Plaintiffs;

-and-

CHIEF CONSTABLE OF THE ROYAL ULSTER CONSTABULARY

Defendant.

LEAD CASE OF DERRICK McCOURT

http://145.229.156.3/dmauliti.nsf/BByDecided/FEFE1CF75EE62E15802573840031FBA1/$FILE/%5B2007%5D%20NIQB%2081%20McCourt.doc

COGHLIN J

[1]        This plaintiff is 63 years of age, having been born on 8 November 1943.  He left school at the age of 15 and obtained initial employment as a wages clerk with William Ewart and Son in Belfast from approximately December 1958 to April 1960.  On 3 May 1960, at the age of 16½, he joined the Junior Royal Marines and, when he turned 17, he signed up for a period of nine years service.  His period of service, spent as a Royal Marine Commando, involved tours of duty in many overseas places including Brunei, Borneo, the Falklands Island and Aden.  Apart from an attack on a police station near Brunei, about which he had only a vague recollection involving the firing of a few shots, he was involved in little, if any, active combat during this period of service and he was not subjected to any particularly distressing incident.  He married a lady from Northern Ireland in 1964 and in November 1968 he became a Christian as a consequence of a visit from a missionary to his barracks in Portsmouth.  During the course of his military service the plaintiff proved himself to be an excellent sportsman and distinguished himself in particular by becoming the Royal Naval boxing champion and gaining the Royal Marines Sportsman of the Year Award in 1960.  On 13 January 1969 he left the Royal Marines with a “very good” discharge being the highest character awarded.  After a short period working as a bus driver he applied to join the RUC and quite clearly impressed the Recruitment Office.  The plaintiff commenced employment as a police officer on 30 March 1970, a time at which the RUC was an unarmed force in accordance with the Hunt reforms. 

[2]        There is no doubt that the plaintiff thoroughly enjoyed his career as an RUC officer.  To use his own words he “took to it like a duck to water.”  After completing basic training at the depot in Enniskillen he was placed third out of a squad of 47 recruits and on 1 July 1970 he was posted to Glengormley Station to take up operational duties.  His progress reports were highly satisfactory and he was noted to be a popular and good comrade.  He applied to join the CID and, on 30 January 1974, his application was supported by a glowing testimonial from his sub-divisional commander who referred to a detection that resulted from an “exemplary piece of police duty” upon his part.  On 20 May 1974 he was appointed to the CID and posted to Newtownabbey Station.  During his service in Newtownabbey the plaintiff continued to impress being highly commended and commended upon thirteen occasions for good police duty.  On 19 May 1977 he received a serious gunshot wound to his right shoulder as a consequence of which he was rendered incapable of duty.  On 8 November 1978 the Force Medical Officer advised the Chief Constable that, in his opinion, it was very doubtful if further recovery could be expected and that the plaintiff would not become fit for full CID duties in the future.  On 1 December 1978 the plaintiff returned to duty and was posted to “G” Division where he performed administrative functions in the CID office at Bangor.  After a period of approximately two years it was decided that the plaintiff was unable to carry out CID duties and on 2 March 1981 he was moved to the job of collator in Bangor which he described as “an office job with some occasional driving.”  Ultimately, after a further period of sick leave, the plaintiff was medically discharged from the RUC on 17 March 1984.  On the occasion of his retirement the Chief Constable wrote to him acknowledging the valuable contribution that he had made to the policing of Northern Ireland and referring to his record in the following terms:

“The award of one Favourable Record, two High Commendations, and eleven Commendations for good police duty in such a short period, speaks volumes for the energy, determination and courage with which he performed even the most difficult and dangerous duties.”

[3]        During the course of his police service the plaintiff was involved with a number of traumatic incidents including the following:           

(i)        In 1972 during a drive-by terrorist attack upon Glengormley Police Station the plaintiff crawled under cover to a UDR landrover in the driveway outside the station and tried to drag a wounded UDR soldier back to safety.  In doing so he became covered in the soldier’s blood which he had to wash off.

(ii)      During the same year the plaintiff rescued a civilian from being injured by an explosion at the AA building at Fanum House and then assisted in seeking to apprehend the perpetrators, one of whom he had recognised.  He was also present at an explosion at the Co-op building in York Street as a result of which he suffered shock.

(iii)      Towards the end of 1972 the plaintiff attended the scene of the shooting of a suspect terrorist as Longlands Road Bridge/Whitewell Road.  The plaintiff comforted the injured man and accompanied him on the ambulance journey to the Royal Victoria Hospital.  The suspect terrorist had suffered a very severe head injury, as a result of which he subsequently died, and the journey to the hospital, during which the suspect was shouting incoherently and gripping the plaintiff’s arm, caused the plaintiff considerable distress.

(iv)      The plaintiff attended the shooting of Constable Harron and a colleague at Greencastle during the Loyalist strike and he accompanied both Constable Harron, who subsequently died of his injuries, and a wounded suspect terrorist to the Royal Victoria Hospital. The plaintiff was able to identify this terrorist as a person who was one of his close neighbours in Glengormley.

(v)      Shortly before his transfer to Newtownabbey the plaintiff and another officer had been on duty in a landrover in Glengormley village keeping apart opposing sectarian factions when he noticed two suspected members of the IRA leave a public house and enter an alley.  As a landrover was departing to resume its normal patrol the plaintiff noticed Reserve Constable Rodgers and another constable proceeding on foot towards the centre of the village.  As he drove away, the plaintiff suddenly apprehended the possibility of an ambush, braked the vehicle and returned to the village.  As he did so, he received a radio transmission recording an attack on the officers on foot and he found Reserve Constable Rodgers who had been shot through his upper chest.  The plaintiff cradled the dying officer until the ambulance arrived.  Reserve Constable Rodgers was well known to the plaintiff and lived about 150 yards away from the plaintiff’s house.  The distress suffered by the plaintiff as a consequence of this incident was heightened by the fact that he partially blamed himself for not anticipating the possibility of an ambush at an earlier stage.  The plaintiff said in evidence that the most distressing and frightening part of the incident was that the man whom he believed to have pulled the trigger lived approximately 30 yards from his own house and the terrorist who had given the signal for the attack lived about 15 yards away.  It would appear that descriptions and identifications made by the plaintiff resulted in arrests and statements of admission.  It was for his role in this incident that the plaintiff received the “exemplary” commendation from his sub-divisional commander.

(vi)      In 1974 the plaintiff and his detective chief inspector were present in an unmarked police car when a terrorist threw a bomb into a chip shop.  The plaintiff challenged the terrorists and, when they did not stop, opened fire.  The terrorists then immediately surrendered and they were taken into custody.  As they returned to the police station the plaintiff was trembling and felt the adrenalin kicking in.  At the station he phoned his wife and was explaining that he would be late when he broke down and began to cry.  At that time there were perhaps four or more CID officers in the room of varying ranks but he maintained that no one spoke to him about his reaction.

(vii)    In May 1975 the plaintiff attended the scene of the murder of Gerrard De’Ath at the Hightown Road.  Mr De’Ath had been killed when handling an explosive device planted on a building site and suffered appalling injuries.

(viii)    A short time after the murder of Mr De’Ath the plaintiff was involved in the pursuit of armed robbers who had carried out a raid at the Ulster Bank, Glengormley.  Shots were exchanged between the vehicles and the plaintiff tended to one of the suspects who suffered a serious head wound.

(ix)      On 23 May 1975 and 9 July 1976 the plaintiff attended at the scene of two particularly distressing murders.  On the first occasion he was required to remove the bodies of John and Thomas McErlean, two Catholic brothers who had been shot dead whilst playing cards. On the second he went to a house on Longlands Road where automatic rounds had pierced the stud wall of a kitchen and killed a woman.  The bodies had been moved but the house was extensively blood-stained and the plaintiff recalled his feet sticking in the blood.  In his statement of evidence the plaintiff said that, following his attendance at these scenes, he began to have very bad dreams which caused him to wake up feeling anger, frustration and emptiness.

(x)        In 1976 the plaintiff attended the scene of a bombing at the Glen Inn, Glengormley and, after entering the wrecked premises, he encountered a local man who had lost both legs in the explosion.  With the assistance of another officer the plaintiff was able to stem the bleeding and save the victim’s life.  In evidence the plaintiff stated that the stench of burning flesh and hair that he encountered within the pub had remained with him ever since.

(xi)      On 1 January 1977 the plaintiff was at home at about 6.30 pm when a neighbour called and, as he stepped out of the front door into the pathway a huge explosion took place as a result of a car bomb.  This explosion caused the death of a 15 month old baby who had been sitting in her mother’s arms in the family car.

[4]        In addition to the above-noted specific incidents the plaintiff, in the course of his duties, had to attend a number of post mortems for the purpose of identification by parents and other loved ones, experiences that he said that he found particularly distressing.  These included the post mortem on Inspector Billy Elliott, who had been a personal friend of the plaintiff for several years.  A few hours prior to attending the post mortem the plaintiff had spoken to Inspector Elliott as they discussed the occurrence book in Glengormley police station.  The plaintiff also gave evidence about the general feeling of vulnerability and tension that he developed during the course of his duties and the need to remain constantly vigilant and alert to the possibility of terrorist attacks.  He referred to the fact that, in the area in which he lived, there was always the possibility of coming face to face with known terrorists.  In evidence he stated that as a result of these conditions and the terrorist attacks there was tension between members of the CID resulting, for various reasons, in a number of physical fights and he referred to an incident in which a CID officer whose car was stoned by youths responded by winding down the window and discharging his firearm. He claimed that at least 50% of the CID staff were heavy drinkers in Newtownabbey although he did not go so far as to say that this impaired their ability to carry out their duties.  He referred to an incident in which a detective sergeant was stopped by uniformed branch when he was driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol He did not mention the former incident in the course of his original witness statement.

[5]        On 19 May 1977 the plaintiff was travelling in an unmarked CID vehicle with another officer on anti-robbery patrol in Glengormley when they encountered a van that had been used in an armed robbery at the Northern Bank.  They went in pursuit of the suspect vehicle.  In Whitewell Crescent the driver of the suspect vehicle lost control on a left hand bend causing the vehicle to crash into a garden.  Four suspects ran from the van and as the plaintiff pursued three of them on foot he drew his pistol and ordered them to stop.  At that point the plaintiff, who was in plain clothes, received a high velocity gunshot wound to his right arm and shoulder.  He had been shot by a soldier who had mistaken him for terrorist.  There is no doubt that this resulted in an extremely severe wound which eventually led to the  plaintiff becoming so disabled that he had to be medical discharged from the force.  At the scene of the shooting he received the last rites from a priest.  The plaintiff spent a considerable period of time in the Mater, Musgrave Park and Ulster Hospital. 

 

j0hn_r1

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daftandbarmy said:
Geez, what a wimp. Suck it up buttercup...

Are you being sarcastic, or you're saying he doesn't have PTSD..?

Or that investigating multiple murders, seeing no less than 3 people die in front of you (including a baby blown-up in a car, and a guy you killed), and being shot by friendly-fire in the line of duty WOULDN'T give somebody PTSD...?

Please advise...  ;)
 

the 48th regulator

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j0hn_r1 said:
Are you being sarcastic, or you're saying he doesn't have PTSD..?

Or that investigating multiple murders, seeing no less than 3 people die in front of you (including a baby blown-up in a car, and a guy you killed), and being shot by friendly-fire in the line of duty WOULDN'T give somebody PTSD...?

Please advise...  ;)


He is Daft and Barmy,

He is being sarcastic, considering what the poor Bastard (the fella from the case) went through, and found innocent.....

Dark Humour man, dark humour..

dileas

tess
 

daftandbarmy

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Oops, forgot that I needed to add one of these on this side of the Atlantic  ::) Naughty D&B

As an aside, I met lots of RUC (now PSNI) members who had been through similar experiences and were as committed as ever to crushing terrorism. I was constantly amazed by those guys (and gals). They could also murder a bottle of Bushmills in no time flat.
 

j0hn_r1

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That's the beauty (or is it bewilderment) of the interweb...

You never know how someone is coming across without one of those lil' smiley-faces...!

:D
 
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