Police criticised over first use of taser
Saturday, 20 September 2008
Police have been criticised after using for the first time in Northern Ireland, the controversial Taser gun to disable and arrest a 37-year-old man in Londonderry.
The solicitor’s criticisms in a Derry court yesterday followed the recent ruling by a High Court judge in Belfast to grant leave to have the deployment of the 50,000 volt weapon judicially reviewed.
Solicitor Paddy McGurk made his comments at the Magistrate's Court in Derry during a bail application for art designer Declan Smith who denies assaulting and threatening to kill his ex-partner and their two young children at their Elaghmore Park home on August 16.
“This is a case when the Taser was used for the first time in Northern Ireland and it is hard to conceive of a more inappropriate reason for the use of the gun,” he said.
“The police were called to my client's home following a phone call from his then partner who had left the house after an argument.
“Because of a breakdown in communications, the police Taser unit was sent from Belfast under the impression that they were going into a hostage situation when in fact it was a domestic incident.
“My client was asleep in bed as were his two young children. He was awakened at 4.30am by noise from outside his house and by someone shouting at him to come out.
“He got out of bed, went downstairs, switched on the kitchen lights and opened the back door and suddenly he was hit by the Taser. He was dressed only in his pyjamas when hit. He takes medication for depression and there is absolutely no information in terms of what the effect of being struck by the Taser will have on him,” he said.
District Judge Greg McCourt released the defendant on bail of £500 to appear in court on October 30.