Saturday 3 December 2016

Woman loses High Court action claiming prison guard asked her to remove jeans at security check

Tim Healy

Published 23/04/2015 | 18:15

Nataliya Matviyenko pictured at the Four Courts for the opening day of her High Court action for damages.Pic: Courts Collins
Nataliya Matviyenko pictured at the Four Courts for the opening day of her High Court action for damages.Pic: Courts Collins

A woman has lost a High Court action claiming she was humiliated when allegedly told to take off her metal studded jeans to get through a prison security check.

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Nataliya Matviyenko (39) claimed that as she pulled down her jeans, her underwear accidentally came down as well.

She sued the State for breach of her rights claiming a male prison officer told her to take off her jeans because they contained  decorative metal buttons or studs which would set off machine designed to detect metal implements.

She claimed the incident happened in May 2009 as she was on a visit to her now husband at Castlerea Prison in Roscommon where he was serving a sentence for drink driving.

The prison officer, Ciaran Croghan, denied she was asked to remove her clothing and was shocked when she dropped her trousers after being asked to remove her shoes, the court heard.

She sued the governor of  the prison, the Irish Prison Service and the Minister for Justice seeking damages for alleged negligence, breach of duty and constitutional rights.

The claims were denied.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan Thursday (April 23)  accepted Ms Matviyenko "genuinely believed" she was asked to remove her trousers when, in fact, the prison officer wanted her to remove her shoes.

He could not accept the State had breached its duty of care towards her as it could not have been reasonable foreseeable she would react in the manner that she did.

The judge, who viewed video evidence of the incident, accepted she was "a sincere person".

He did not accept she took down her jeans to " insult officer Croghan or anybody else."

It could not have been "reasonably foreseeable" that Ms Matviyenko,  a naturalised Irish citizen originally from the Ukraine who has a limited command of English, would have interpreted an instruction to mean she had to remove her trousers, he said.

The judge said that in the circumstances he was dismissing the case.  The State said it was not seeking its costs against Ms Matviyenko. 

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