Sergeant tells wrongful arrest case gardaí did 'very best with good intent'

A garda sergeant told the High Court officers did their "very best with good intent" for a woman who had been viciously beaten although, initially, they had not ruled out her fiancée as a person of interest in the investigation.

Sergeant tells wrongful arrest case gardaí did 'very best with good intent'

A garda sergeant told the High Court officers did their "very best with good intent" for a woman who had been viciously beaten although, initially, they had not ruled out her fiancée as a person of interest in the investigation.

Sgt Theresa Phillips was the supervising officer during a call-out to a report of the attack on Martha Kowalczyk outside her Carlow apartment on December 2, 2012.

Sgt Phillips was under cross-examination for a second day in a case by Ms Kowalczyk's fiancée, Gerald Jennings (aged 34), from Carlow, who claims he was wrongfully arrested, assaulted and detained on the night she was attacked.

The attacker turned out to be 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.

The Garda Commissioner and the State deny Mr Jennings' claims.

Mr Jennings' counsel, Mark Harty, said as supervising officer Sgt Phillips had not acted in accordance with protocol about preserving evidence at the scene of what could possibly have been a rape.

Ms Kowalczyk, who was knocked unconscious in the attack and her trousers partly pulled down by Keogh before he left, told the court in the immediate aftermath she did not know whether or not she had been raped.

Sgt Phillips said she was satisfied from speaking to Ms Kowalczyk that she had not been raped. However, she did later despatch officers to the hospital to which she had been taken to get a statement from her and preserve her clothing evidence in the assault matter.

She said officers did "our true and very best with good intent for this lady".

Within three days, they arrested Colvin Keogh at a train station as he appeared to be about to flee, she said. Counsel said he might have been caught a day or two earlier if "you had not thought it was Gerald Jennings" who carried out the assault.

Earlier, Mr Harty asked why a couple of hours after Mr Jennings was taken to the garda station was Sgt Phillips willing to consider letting him go in the care of his younger sister Catherine who had called to the station in a situation where she still thought he might be a suspect in the attack.

Catherine Jennings was on her way at that time to the injured Ms Kowalczyk in Kilkenny Hospital, the court heard.

She said he had been arrested for public order offences outside the apartment not for assaulting his fiancée and if he had been released into the care of a suitable adult, there was nothing more gardaí could do about it.

The court heard Mr Jennings was arrested outside Ms Kowalczyk's apartment after he had been woken inside the apartment by gardaí who asked him to go outside, as his girlfriend had been seriously assaulted. They claim he reacted aggressively.

They claim he continued this aggression out on the street where he had to be pepper-sprayed in the eyes three times to subdue him before he was arrested.

Mr Harty put it to Sgt Phillips they got a drunk man to leave the apartment and then arrested him for public order offences. Sgt Phillips replied it was also possible to arrest someone under common law for breach of the peace inside the apartment.

Counsel said the sergeant formed the suspicion within the apartment he had attacked her. She replied she believed he was a person of interest and cautioned him after seeing a handbag in the apartment which they thought might have been taken in the assault on Ms Kowalczyk.

Adrian Byrne, a security man in Carlow's Med Bar on December 2, 2012, told the court that earlier that night, he had asked Gerald Jennings to leave the bar because he was too drunk. Mr Jennings threatened to beat him during exchanges they had, he said.

Mr Byrne, under cross-examination by Michael McDowell SC, for Mr Jennings, denied he had invented the beating up threat.

He agreed he had a criminal conviction for drug dealing, for which he got a suspended sentence.

He disagreed the beating up claim was "an invention to keep the gardaí happy". It is "not an invention, that is what happened", he said.

The case continues before a judge and jury.

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