Sunday 21 July 2019

Man suing for wrongful arrest after his fiancée was assaulted

‘Pepper spray’: Gerald Jennings is suing the Garda after another man was jailed for seven years for the attack on his fiancée. Photo: Collins Courts
‘Pepper spray’: Gerald Jennings is suing the Garda after another man was jailed for seven years for the attack on his fiancée. Photo: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

A man claims he was wrongfully arrested and falsely imprisoned after gardaí wrongly suspected he carried out a savage random street attack on his fiancée.

The High Court heard the real perpetrator was later caught and jailed for the crime.

Shortly after the attack, the court heard, gardaí roused Gerald Jennings from his sleep in his fiancée's apartment and brought him out on to the street, where a sergeant told him: "That is what you get for beating your girlfriend, you dirty scumbag." As he was being arrested, the court heard, he was pepper-sprayed in his eyes while protesting his innocence.

Mr Jennings (34), a property manager from Pembroke House, Carlow town, is suing the Garda Commissioner and the State for assault and false imprisonment on December 2, 2012. The defendants deny the claims and say reasonable force was used because he resisted arrest.

In April 2014, Colvin Keogh (21), a student from the Paddocks, Carlow, was jailed for seven years after he pleaded guilty to assault causing serious harm and sexual assault on Mr Jennings's fiancée, beautician Martha Kowalczyk (33).

Michael McDowell SC said Mr Jennings was "grossly assaulted" by gardaí, who had mistakenly formed the view he was the attacker because they found a handbag and a mobile phone in the apartment.

It was not an honest mistake because the "dirty scumbag" remark showed the garda was acting outside the law, he said.

The court heard Mr Jennings had gone to sleep on the sofa in Ms Kowalczyk's apartment after the couple came back from a night out and after Mr Jennings was refused more drink in a local nightclub.

Ms Kowalczyk had been in the company of a visiting friend and they got separated when Mr Jennings had to leave the club. She realised her friend had left her phone in her apartment and went back out to try to find her friend. She could not find her and returned home.

As she was coming near her apartment in Centaur Street, she noticed a man behind her and started walking faster before starting to run but the man ran after her.

Just outside the door to her apartment complex, he attacked her. He punched and kicked her as she lay on the ground and tried to pull down her trouser bottoms.

When she fell unconscious, Keogh went away. She awoke and flagged a taxi driver who called gardaí.

When they arrived, Ms Kowalczyk said she would not go to hospital in an ambulance until gardaí checked her fiancée was alright because she believed the attacker had the keys and codes to her apartment.

Ms Kowalczyk fought back tears as she told of the attack and of how her "second nightmare" began when gardaí kept asking her did she know her attacker. She said she repeatedly replied she did not but officers started saying you "cannot protect him [her fiancée] anymore".

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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