Saturday 22 September 2018

DNA is the 'golden thread' that connects random attacks on three women in Dublin - trial hears

Accused Slawomir Gierlowski
Accused Slawomir Gierlowski

Declan Brennan

DNA is the “golden thread” that connects random attacks on three women in Dublin and underpins the case against a man accused of the attacks, his trial has heard.

Slawomir Gierlowski (33) of Galtymore Road, Drimnagh, Dublin denies attacking the women on dates in 2011, 2015 and 2016 at locations around Clondalkin in south Dublin.

The women cannot be identified for legal reasons.

One woman testified that on May 16, 2016, a man armed with a hunting knife attacked her as she was walking along Knockmeenagh Lane to the nearby Luas stop.

She said that she thought the man was going to slit her throat and she grabbed the blade to stop that happening, causing the knife to cut tendons in three of her fingers.

The trial also heard from another woman that in Clondalkin on September 3, 2015, a man put a leather belt around her neck and knocked her to the ground. The man then wrapped duct tape around her face and hands and sexually assaulted her.

The third complainant said that in Clondalkin on September 11, 2011, she was punched several times and sexually assaulted.

On day 13 of the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, lawyers for the State and for the defendant made closing speeches to the jury of 11 men.

Roisin Lacey SC, prosecuting, told the jury that DNA linked the accused to the three crime scenes and that this DNA evidence was quite clear, incontrovertible and uncontested.

“DNA is the cornerstone of the prosecution case, the golden thread that we say runs through each of the crime scenes. It permeates and underpins the case against Mr Gierlowski,” she said.

Ms Lacey said that the three victims were not previously connected to each other or to the accused but that DNA evidence “scientifically and intimately connected them” to Mr Gierlowski.

She said this evidence included the accused's semen and blood linking him to crime scenes. The 2016 victim's blood was found on a jacket owned by the defendant and his DNA was detected on a Polish beer bottle found at Knockmeenagh Lane shortly after the attack.

Ms Lacey said it was the State's case that cable ties found near the scene of the 2016 attack came from an opened packet of cable ties found in Mr Gierlowski's van and further linked him to that scene.

Orla Crowe SC, defending, said that there was no evidence of when cable ties found in the lane got there. She said the same principle applied to all the forensic evidence and that DNA evidence could not prove when semen or blood was placed where it was found.

Ms Lacey said the three attacks had a similar modus operandi in that a male attacker used stealth to come up behind the women.

The attacker in each case focused on the neck of the victims and in two attacks he used force to knock the victims to the ground.

She said that Mr Gierlowski was “intimately familiar” with Knockmeenagh Lane, the location of the 2016 attack. The other attacks took place in the same area and Mr Gierlowski previously lived in a house on nearby New Road.

She said a large white van, similar to a van registered to the accused, was seen on CCTV footage moving from the house on New Road to the Knockmeenagh Lane area and later to Drimnagh, where Mr Gierlowski was living.

Counsel said that Mr Gierlowski told gardaí he was out and about driving on the night of the 2016 attack.

He said he was in the van “the whole time” between around 5.44am and 6.49am, during which the attack allegedly took place. Asked what he was doing during this time, he told gardai “nothing”.

Mr Gierlowski has pleaded not guilty to nine charges, including false imprisonment, sexual assault and assault.

Closing speeches have ended and Judge Pauline Codd told the jury she will give her charge on the law tomorrow.

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