State apologises to family over ‘harassment’ by gardaí

The State has unconditionally apologised to a family who claimed they were harassed and intimidated by gardaí who called to their home on several occasions asking about a person who didn’t live there.

The apology was made before the High Court to the Topolnicki family of Ashmount, Clonsilla, Dublin 15.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan heard the State was offering an unconditional apology and it was accepted gardaí had made a mistake by calling to the wrong address.

Originally from Poland, the family said they are law abiding citizens, have no criminal convictions, do not associate with criminals, and have never been involved with the police in any jurisdiction. They took proceedings after gardaí called to their home on eight different occasions over the last three years.

They sought various reliefs including orders restraining gardaí entering or attending at their home unless under the authority of a valid warrant issued by a court of law. The also sought an order restraining gardaí watching, besetting, harassing or intimidating any member of the family, including brothers Marek and Patryk Topolnicki and their wives Malgorzata and Kinga.

The family, represented by Pat O’Connell, had sued the Garda Commissioner, Minister for Justice, Ireland, and the Attorney General.

They claimed gardaí first called to the house sometime in 2014, saying they were looking for a person who may have previously resided at the house. The gardaí were told that person did not live there, they said.

On another occasion in March 2016, up to 12 gardaí arrived at the house and had banged on doors and windows.

Marek Topolnicki claimed, when he opened the door, he was pushed inside and six to eight gardaí forcibly entered and roamed around the house. This upset and traumatised the family. He said they did not have a warrant and, before leaving the house, a member of the Garda party gave him a document to sign which Mr Topolnicki was told was a confirmation no damage had occurred during the search.

Following that incident, the family said their home was watched by gardaí, who also called to their door on a number of other occasions. On another occasion, gardaí called to their home at 2am and remained outside for a time with the lights of their vehicle on and the engine running, it was claimed.

The family previously got undertakings from gardaí they would not enter or intrude or attend at the home unless under the authority of a valid warrant. When the matter returned before the court, Mr Justice Gilligan was told by Mr O’Connell the injunctions matter had been settled and could be struck out with the family to get their legal costs.

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