Tuesday 22 May 2018

Man who stuffed underwear in partner's mouth and beat her with hammer found not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity

Victim Alicja Kalinowska leaves the Central Criminal Court in Dublin today after she gave evidence in the trial of Tomas Gajowniczek. Gajowniczek
Victim Alicja Kalinowska leaves the Central Criminal Court in Dublin today after she gave evidence in the trial of Tomas Gajowniczek. Gajowniczek

Eoin Reynolds

A Polish man who attacked his partner, stuffed underwear in her mouth and beat her with a hammer has been found not guilty of trying to murder her by reason of insanity.

Tomas Gajowniczek (37) of The Ice Rink Apartments, Dolphin's Barn, Dublin 8 pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the attempted murder of Alicja Kalinowska (30) at their home on June 16, 2016.

He also pleaded not guilty to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Ms Kalinowska on the same date at the same location.

The jury heard that Mr Gajowniczek punched Ms Kalinowska repeatedly in the face, stuffed underwear in her mouth and held her nose to stop her breathing, beat her with a hammer and gouged her eyes with his thumbs.

Ms Kalinowska told the jury that she passed out when he put a bottle in her mouth and forced her to drink the contents.

After almost nine hours considering their verdicts, the six men and six women of the jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity on both counts.

Justice Patrick McCarthy committed Mr Gajowniczek to the Central Mental Hospital (CMH). Mr Gajowniczek will return to court on May 9 when a doctor will say whether he is suffering from a mental disorder and in need of ongoing in-patient care.

Defence counsel Ronan Munro SC noted that during the trial psychiatrists who had assessed Mr Gajowniczek had stated that he is no longer suffering a mental disorder but added that he understands why the court would send him to the CMH for assessment.

Evidence in trial

Ms Kalinowska told the trial that she started going out with Mr Gajowniczek in Poland in 2006 and they moved to Ireland to find work a few years later. She got a job in a Subway sandwich shop in Dublin while he worked a night shift in a Maxol Garage. During one of his shifts there was a break-in and he was tied up and locked in a bathroom. He was traumatised and came home that night shaking. He refused to go back to work and was prescribed Xanax for his anxiety.

He remained on social welfare after that and Ms Kalinowska noticed that his behaviour became strange following the death of his grandfather around Christmas 2015. He was upset that they didn't have enough money to travel to Poland for the funeral. From January onward Ms Kalinowska noted a difference in him. He would insult her, call her names and accuse her of being a bad mother.

One night she was so upset by the abuse she walked out and went to the apartment of a male neighbour for a few hours. When she returned Mr Gajowniczek accused her of cheating. She admitted that she kissed the neighbour, accepted she had done wrong and apologised to Tomas. This, the prosecution said, was the background to the attack on June 16. The prosecution called Professor Damian Mohan of the Central Mental Hospital who said that the accused was "furious" about Alicja's infidelity and due to long-term daily use of cannabis he was unable to control his anger.

Professor Mohan's colleague Dr Conor O'Neill disagreed, telling the trial that he had treated Mr Gajowniczek following his arrest and believed that Mr Gajowniczek was suffering from a delusional disorder at the time and therefore should qualify for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Dr O'Neill said the disorder led to bizarre beliefs that Ms Kalinowska was putting amphetamines in his milk, poisoning or drugging his food and drink and stealing his tax returns.

Justice McCarthy told the jury that for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity they would have to be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Mr Gajowniczek committed the physical act but that he was unable to refrain from doing so because of a mental disorder.

Photographs of the injuries inflicted on Ms Kalinowska, showing extensive bruising and swelling on her face and injuries to her limbs and torso, were shown to the jury. The also heard medical evidence of her injuries, including a fractured nose and injuries to her eyes.

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