Rapist given €225 for assault gets €17k on appeal

A rapist who was clearly assaulted by a prison officer while serving his jail term has had a €225 award to him by a jury increased to €17,225 by the Court of Appeal.
Rapist given €225 for assault gets €17k on appeal

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said some of the Castlerea Prison staff who gave evidence in the jury civil action taken by Darius Savickis had regrettably “told lies”.

One officer described CCTV evidence, in which Mr Savickis was punched three or four times, as the officer “putting his hand in two or three times to remove clothing”, the judge said.

Mr Savickis, aged 46, originally from Lithuania, was serving a six-year sentence at the time after he had pleaded guilty in July 2009 to orally raping a 23-year-old German woman walking home from work in Galway on November 28, 2005.

A few months into his term in Castlerea Prison, Roscommon, he was involved in an incident in which he refused to go out to the exercise yard because he was not wearing a socks or jumper.

He held on to a rail and a prison officer put him in a headlock while four or five other officers moved in and prised him from the railings to totally subdue him.

Mr Justice Hogan said it was clear from the CCTV Mr Savickis did not attempt to strike out at the officers.

It was clear, the judge said, that as he was being subdued he was struck three or four times with punches to the chest by a particular officer.

In Mr Savickis’ High Court action, the jury rejected the majority of his claims but did find unreasonable force had been used by the officers. However, the jury concluded Mr Savickis was 95% responsible and this meant a €4,500 award it made to him was cut to just €225.

He appealed arguing the jury findings were essentially perverse and unsupported by the evidence. The prison authorities and the State opposed the appeal.

Mr Justice Hogan, with whom his two appeal court colleagues agreed, found he had been assaulted and awarded him €10,000.

He awarded another €5,000 exemplary damages including because officers who gave evidence in the case repeatedly denied he had been punched even when CCTV evidence was shown to them.

“It is, I regret to say, very difficult to avoid the conclusion that some of the witnesses tendered by the State told lies regarding this matter in the course of their evidence,” he said. This was conduct the court should not tolerate, he said.

The jury had found there was a failure to adequately train officers in control and restraint techniques. The €4,500 award in relation to this was not an inappropriate figure to compensate him for the injuries he suffered while being restrained, apart from those inflicted on him by the assault, Mr Justice Hogan said.

However, he said that he parted company with the jury in relation to finding him 95% He found him 50% responsible for refusing to obey the instruction to go out to the yard, bringing the award to €2,225.

In total, the appeal court awarded him €17,225.

More in this section