Garda tells court man suing for wrongful arrest was aggressive before he was pepper-sprayed

A garda sergeant has told the High Court she had to pepper spray a man who is suing for wrongful arrest because he was shouting aggressively and was intimidating.

Garda tells court man suing for wrongful arrest was aggressive before he was pepper-sprayed

A garda sergeant has told the High Court she had to pepper spray a man who is suing for wrongful arrest because he was shouting aggressively and was intimidating.

Sergeant Theresa Phillips said after she pepper-sprayed Gerald Jennings (aged 34) once in the eyes, he was sprayed twice by Garda David Conway because he was "continuing to move about" in a threatening way.

Mr Jennings went to his knees and was handcuffed. While she was carrying him by the arms with another officer to the garda van, she said to him:

"You may hit her but you will not hit me".

The court previously heard this remark followed an incident earlier that night when Mr Jennings financée, Martha Kowalczyk, had been savagely beaten in a random street attack outside her apartment in Centaur Street, Carlow.

The court heard the attacker was Carlow student Colvin Keogh (aged 26), The Paddocks, Carlow, who was later jailed for seven years after admitting assault causing her serious harm and sexual assault.

Mr Jennings a property manager from Carlow, says he was wrongfully arrested, assaulted and falsely imprisoned by gardaí on that night in Carlow town on December 2, 2012, and has been diagnosed as still suffering from post-traumatic stress as a result.

Mr Jennings says as he was being arrested, Sgt Phillips said to him:

"That's what you get for beating your girlfriend, you dirty scumbag".

The Garda Commissioner and the State deny his claims.

On the fourth day of the hearing before a judge and jury, Sgt Phillips said she found the badly beaten Ms Kowalczyk in a taxi near the scene.

She got into the taxi and after speaking to her, holding her and reassuring her, the three officers went to two different apartments in the town on the basis of what they had been told by Ms Kowalczyk.

Sgt Phillips said Ms Kowalczyk was "very mixed up" due to her distress, injuries and intoxication. But she was concerned her attacker might also attack Mr Jennings, who was asleep in the apartment because she was missing her keys after the attack.

The court has heard Mr Jennings, who had been out that night and had been drinking, fell asleep in the apartment and Ms Kowalczyk had left to look for a Polish friend with whom she had been socialising that night but from whom she got separated.

The friend had come from Dublin and was staying overnight but had left her phone in Ms Kowalczyk's apartment.

Sgt Phillips said she and the two other officers found Ms Kowalczyk's apartment door open.

They shouted "Carlow gardaí" and found Mr Jennings "in a drunken slumber" on the couch. Sgt Phillips said he was abusive saying "what the fuck is this about".

The sergeant was told by a colleague a handbag and mobile phone was found in the apartment as Ms Kowalczyk had said her handbag was taken.

Sgt Phillips said gardaí told Mr Jennings his partner was very badly assaulted and was outside in an ambulance but "it did not seem to register with him".

In view of the fact that the handbag and phone had been found in the apartment, Sgt Phillips felt it right to caution Mr Jennings that he had a right to remain silent but she did not get a chance to complete the caution because he went for the door and violently hit her with his shoulder, she said.

He exited the main door of the apartment very violently and was "storming away" when Sgt Phillips rang for back-up because she felt officers "were going to be in trouble"

Outside, despite being asked to calm down, he continued to be aggressive and "a physical threat" to officers and Sgt Phillips decided to use her pepper spray.

Sgt Phillips said Ms Kowalczyk had told her the attacker was not her partner but she also said she did not see the attacker's face.

During a visit to the garda station later that night by Mr Jennings' younger sister Catherine, Sgt Phillips said Mr Jennings demanded an apology for the "dirty scumbag" remark.

Sgt Phillips said she did not apologise because she had not made that remark. She said Mr Jennings was still intoxicated and ill-tempered.

Earlier, Catherine Jennings (aged 25) told the court when she arrived at the station Sgt Phillips spoke to her about domestic violence and whether she knew her brother to be violent before, which she said was not the case.

She said Gerald asked Sgt Phillips for an apology for the "dirty scumbag" remark but the sergeant replied "You are being the hero"

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