Thursday 26 April 2018

Man found guilty of carrying out 'random' late-night sex attacks on women

  • Jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court took a little over four hours to reach unanimous guilty verdicts on six counts of sexual assault, assault and false imprisonment of two women
  • Jury will continue its deliberations on three further charges arising out of an alleged third attack on a woman in 2016 tomorrow morning
  • The court heard that in all three attacks a man came up from behind the women and attacked them around their neck area
Slawomir Gierlowski (33) found guilty of attacking the women in 2011 and 2015 at locations around Clondalkin in south Dublin
Slawomir Gierlowski (33) found guilty of attacking the women in 2011 and 2015 at locations around Clondalkin in south Dublin

Declan Brennan

A jury has convicted a Polish roofer of carrying out random sex attacks on two women in a four year period.

Slawomir Gierlowski (33) denied attacking the women in 2011 and 2015 at locations around Clondalkin in south Dublin.

A jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court took a little over four hours to reach unanimous guilty verdicts on six counts of sexual assault, assault and false imprisonment of the two women.

The jury of 11 men will continue its deliberations on three further charges arising out of an alleged third attack on a woman in 2016 tomorrow morning. Mr Gierlowski of Galtymore Rd., Drimnagh, Dublin denies carrying out this attack too.

He has pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment, sexual assault and assault of a woman on September 11, 2011 and to false imprisonment, sexual assault and assault of a second woman on September 3, 2015.

He has further pleaded not guilty to falsely imprisoning and assaulting a woman and having a hunting knife with intent to intimidate on May 16, 2016. This alleged third attack took place on Knockmeenagh Lane, Clondalkin, Dublin, not far from the other two attacks and from a house occupied by the family of Mr Gierlowski's partner.

The court heard that in all three attacks a man came up from behind the women and attacked them around their neck area. In the 2011 and 2015 incidents the attacker dragged the women to the ground and sexually assaulted them.

The alleged third attack was carried out in broad daylight on the morning of May 16, 2016. The victim was walking along Knockmeenagh Lane to the nearby Luas stop when a man armed with a hunting knife put his arm around her neck and began to pull her backwards.

This woman told the court 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.

She managed to get out from under the knife and began screaming and her attacker ran off.

The first attack took place late at night on September 11, 2011 when a man attacked a young woman walking home from a night out, dragging her to the ground and sexually assaulting her.

She managed to get away from him but he caught her and began punching her repeatedly around the face.

On September 3, 2015 a woman was also walking home late at night when a man came up behind her and put a leather belt around her neck and began pulling backwards. He pulled her to the ground and then wrapped duct tape around her face and hands before sexually assaulted her.

Mr Gierlowski was identified as a suspect after detectives tracked a white VW Crafter van spotted near the scene of the 2016 attack back to Galtymore road, where Mr Gierlowski lives.

Using a wild card search of a partial registration provided by neighbours who had seen the van, detectives were able to identify the van as being one registered to Mr Gierlowski.

After his arrest gardaí took a DNA sample from him and found it matched various blood, semen samples taken from the 2011 and 2015 crime scenes. The jury also heard that blood found on a jacket taken from his home was the blood of the 2016 victim.

Orla Crowe SC, defending, told the jury that DNA evidence could not prove when semen or blood was placed where it was found.

Roisin Lacey SC, prosecuting, told the jury that DNA is a “golden thread” connecting the three random attacks.

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

Blood from the victim of the 2016 knife attack was found on the cuff of Gierlowski's jacket seized from his home by gardaí. Gierlowski's DNA profile matched semen traces found on the victim of a sexual assault in 2015 and his DNA was also found on the underwear of the 2011 victim.

His DNA was found on duct tape and his blood was found on a belt used in the 2015 attack.

Gardai investigating the 2011 and 2015 attacks had already linked the crime scenes by DNA evidence but did not have a suspect or an identity for that “unknown male” DNA profile.

It was only after Gierlowski was nominated as a suspect to the 2016 and his profile checked against the DNA database that he was identified as the “unknown male” in the earlier attacks.

His DNA also linked him to Knockmeenagh Lane, the scene of the 2016 attack, via DNA found on a Polish beer bottle retrieved from the lane shortly after the attack.

The jury also heard evidence that cable ties found on the lane came from an opened bag of cable ties seized by gardaí from Gierlowski's van.

Attack

During the trial the victim of the 2011 attack, now in her mid 20s, described how she was left covered in blood during the attack.

She said she had gone out socialising earlier on the evening of September 10 and was walking home when she saw a man walking behind her very quickly.

She said that she got a fright as the man was quite close. She said hello to the man and he said hello back and spoke in an eastern European accent.

This man walked on and she continued to walk home but was nervous. When she got to her driveway she turned around and a man lunged at her from behind, she said. He pushed her onto the ground and on her back and she was screaming for him to get off.

“He had his hand around my mouth. He was on top of me. I was trying to pull his hand off my mouth,” she testified. She said was screaming loudly at him to “please stop” and the man just said “sssh” to her.

She said she didn't see him because it was too dark and she was focused on fighting him off. Her attacker put his hand up her skirt and touched her genital area outside her underwear, the court heard.

The witness said the man was strong but she managed to kick out and get up from under him.

“I ran towards my door. He grabbed my arm and flung me around and I fell,” she said.

The man got on top of her again and put his two hands around her neck. The woman scratched and bit his face and the man began punching her.

She said he hit her around six times and then the attack just stopped. She ran to her house and was banging on the front door. Her father told the trial that he was woken by the sounds of screaming and banging. He said he went to the front door.

“I could see my daughter’s face red with blood through the glass in the door,” he said. He said his daughter was still screaming when she came into the house and gardaí were called.

He said he ran outside and saw a parked car with unusual rear lights.

His wife said his daughter was covered with blood. The victim's nose was broken and she suffered two swollen black eyes.

The victim of the 2015 attack told the jury that she was walking home from a night out in the city centre when she felt a sudden force around her neck. She said that it felt like a thick leather belt and it had come around her chin and upper neck before she had time to grab it.

She lost her balance and ended up on the ground. She felt her legs being restricted and he kept putting his hand over my mouth and my nose to prevent her from screaming. She said that after several screams the man told her: "shut up or I’ll kill you”. She said his voice was an Eastern European sound and was quite vicious and angry.

She felt something being wrapped around her head and face and she guessed from the sound that it was tape. She became upset in court as she described how it became difficult for her to breathe and she started becoming light headed.

“I thought I was dying. I had gone quite light headed, like I was passing out. I felt it was for the best. I didn’t know what was going to happen,” she said.

She said the man turned her on to her stomach and took her hands behind her back and restricted them. He then touched her genitalia. The attack ended when the owners of a nearby house called gardaí and the man ran off.

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