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Rapist awarded €225 after prison officers used ‘unreasonable force’

A MAN who raped a woman on her way home from work has been awarded €225 in High Court damages after a jury found unreasonable force had been used by prison officers to restrain him during an incident some months after he began his six-year sentence for the crime.

Darius Savickis (43), a father of two originally from Lithuania, had pleaded guilty in July 2009 at the Central Criminal Court to orally raping a 23-year-old German woman walking home from work in Galway on November 28, 2005.

On September 29 that year, while serving his sentence in Castlerea Prison, he claimed he was beaten up by a number of prison officers, the High Court heard.

It was claimed he was beaten when he refused a direction from a prison officer to go out to the yard because he had no socks or jumper on and was not allowed to get them out of his cell first.

The court was told by Savickis' counsel Deirdre Murphy he offered no violence but held on to a rail while an officer tried to pull him away from it.  Three other officers arrived and "milled him away" and upto ten officers were then involved in bringing him to the yard, counsel said.

He was kicked an sustained a serious injury to his ribs, later requiring hospital treatment.   He was taken to an isolation cell where he was stripped naked.

A couple of hours later, he was brought to another isolation cell and in the process of doing so, he was "paraded naked through the prison", counsel said.

He asked the jury to award him damages for assault and negligence in failing to provide him with safe and secure place of custody in his case which was against the governor of Castlerea, the Minister for Justice, the Irish Prison Service and the State.   The defendants denied the claims.

A jury of six men and six women, who were shown video footage of the incident, took just over three hours to find it had been necessary to apply force to him for the purpose of maintaining good order.

It found however that in the circumstances the force used was not such as was reasonably necessary and proportionate.

It found the defendants had failed to discharge their duty to provide him with safe custody and to treat him with appropriate dignity by by failing to train prison officers to the degree necessary to avoid such an incident.

The jury did not find there was a failure to discharge duty of care by allowing prison officers to apply control and restraint techniques other than in a proper and reasonable fashion or in allowing him to be removed from one cell to another in a state of undress.

They found Savickis was guilty of contributory negligence in obstructing officers and apportioned blame to him at 95 per cent and five per cent to the defendants.

Awarding him at total of €4,500, and deducting the apportionment for contributory negligence, the total damages they awarded was €225.

The jury was thanked and discharged by Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne who adjourned the issue of costs.

In her opening address, counsel for Mr Savickis said the case was about making the defendants accountable.  There had been an internal prison investigation which did not uphold his complaint and he had also complained to gardai but nothing happened.

He came to court as a last resort.   There was no dispute Mr Savickis had committed an awful and appalling crime when he was "full of drink and forced (his victim) to have oral sex", counsel said.

But he had been made accountable and was punished for what he did by being sent to prison for six years, counsel said.

The Central Criminal Court heard in 2009 that Savickis fled before his trial for rape in 2005 but was extradited from Scotland.

The court heard that he grabbed his victim from behind and  knocked her to the ground.

DNA was later extracted from semen stains found on the hood of the woman' s jacket.   Savickis's DNA had been taken when he was arrested for a minor offence in England and when he was arrested for the rape, he denied any knowledge of the crime.

His victim, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder has since left Ireland

Online Editors