The trial of a garda accused of assault during the Reclaim the Streets May Day demonstration in Dublin city centre in 2002 has opened in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

A Dublin man told the jury that he suffered heavy bleeding from the head after being hit by a garda with a baton during the demonstration.

However, Fergal Leddy said he would find it difficult to describe the garda who hit him.

He was giving evidence in the trial of Garda Paul Tallon, who is accused of assaulting him during the demonstration in 2002. Garda Paul Tallon, who is stationed at Mountjoy Garda Station, denies one charge of assault causing harm to Fergal Leddy.

Counsel for the prosecution told the court this morning that visual identification could well be an issue in the case.

The jury is to be shown video footage shot from the air by gardaí as well as footage taken from the ground.

Mr Leddy, from Castleknock in Dublin, told the court he took part in the event. It was a carnival type event he said, which also expressed dissatisfaction with planning issues in the city.

He said he was part of a group of about 500 people who gathered at Burgh Quay in Dublin at 2pm. Later, some time after 5pm, the group moved on up the quays and decided to disperse at St Stephen's Green.

By the time it got to Dame Street there were only 50 to 70 people left. As they passed the Central Bank, Mr Leddy said a number of garda vans and gardaí appeared.

He said the gardaí approached people very aggressively, and were shouting and pushing people. The temperature then rose, he said, and one garda appeared to be strangling a protestor who was shouting to be let go.
Mr Leddy said he tried to intervene, and appealed to the garda that the man was not resisting, but the garda ignored him. Then Mr Leddy said he came between them and tried to separate them.

He says the next thing he was aware of was that he was on the ground, there were blows raining down on him and he was shouting that he was not resisting.

Mr Leddy said he was struck on the head and the shoulder and was bleeding heavily from his head. He said he saw a lot of gardaí and was aware a garda hit him with a baton but would be hard put to describe him, as he had his head buried in his arms and only got glimpses of him.

He ended up back in the crowd.

The trial continues tomorrow.