A stalker used a scaffolding pole to climb onto the balcony of a young woman’s apartment, before walking in through an open door and assaulting her flatmate with a claw hammer as she slept on a couch.
Igor Lewandowski (20), formerly of Dunaras, Bishop O’Donnell Road, was a first year engineering student at NUIG when he became obsessed with another student and began to stalk her incessantly earlier this year.
Lewandowski, who secured 565 points in his Leaving Cert results, used his engineering skills to locate the best vantage point in the student accommodation complex where the young woman lived, from where he could simultaneously check her movements along either of two paths leading to and from her apartment. The hidden vantage point also afforded him a clear view of the woman’s bedroom window and the front door leading to her apartment block.
Lewandowski pleaded guilty last month before Galway Circuit Criminal Court to harassing the female student at Dún na Coiribe, Headford Road, and also at various other locations around Galway City on dates between May 10 and May 27 last, contrary to Section 10 (1) and (6) of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.
He also pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated burglary by breaking into her apartment at Dún na Coiribe on March 27 last, while having a silver claw hammer with him which he used to assault another female, causing her harm, contrary to Section 13 (1) and (3) of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001.
The accused, who moved from Poland to Monasterevin in Kildare with his family ten years ago, has been held on remand since his arrest in connection with the offences last May and has recently been put on 23-hour lockdown in prison for his own protection.
Five bail applications which he made to both the District Court and High Court in the intervening period, were all refused.
He was due to be sentenced last week, but appeared in custody before the court ahead of that schedule when he lodged a sixth bail application.
Detective Bernard McLoughlin strenuously objected to the application, telling the court the accused was a flight risk and that both women lived in fear of him.
Outlining his objections to bail, Det McLoughlin said this was a very unusual case and that he could not emphasise enough the impact it was having on both women.
He said the harassment began in early May when the accused began to watch and beset the young woman he became infatuated with.
They had met through mutual friends in NUIG but as time went on the accused became infatuated and besotted with her. He discovered where she worked in a shop and during Garda interviews, he admitted following her to her place of work and watching her. He followed her when she took her lunch breaks and after work, followed her when she went to pubs and restaurants with her friends.
He would then follow her as she made her way home to the Dún na Coiribe student village.
Det McLoughlin said Lewandowski told him during interview that he had created a vantage point for himself from where he could watch two pathways simultaneously to monitor the woman’s movements as she came and went from her accommodation.
“He could also monitor the front door to the apartment block and had a viewing point to her bedroom as well,” Det McLoughlin said.
The young woman and her housemates became aware Lewandowski was following them, but they thought it would stop and he would go away in time.
However, on May 17 last, the doorbell rang at 9am and when the young woman looked out the upstairs window, she saw the accused hiding in bushes outside. She immediately rang the Gardaí.
On May 26, Lewandowski appeared to bump into the woman by chance on campus. She became afraid and went straight home but shortly afterwards, she saw him outside the apartment again.
Det McLoughlin said that due to the seriousness of the offence, a warning was circulated to Lewandowski to see what his intentions were. The following morning Gardaí received an emergency call from the woman that one of her housemates had been assaulted by the accused in the apartment.
Gardaí discovered the accused had entered the property by using a scaffolding pole to get onto the balcony and from there he went into the apartment through an unlocked door.
Her flatmate, who had locked herself out of her own bedroom the night before and had slept on the couch instead, woke up to find the accused repeatedly hitting her with a claw hammer. She managed to fend off the blows with her duvet. The accused fled and jumped off the balcony.
Gardai found a knife on the ground near where he had jumped.
Lewandowski was found a short time later “crawling across the Dyke Road”.
During subsequent Garda interviews, he claimed he only wanted to talk to the woman and get €200 which he had lent back from her.
“We aren’t sure what his true intentions were,” Det McLoughlin added.
He said the accused was of Polish heritage and while his immediate family lived in Monasterevin, he had extended family in Poland.
The detective said he believed that if the accused was given bail he would be a serious flight risk.
“I can’t emphasise enough the impact this case has had on the two victims. The girl he was stalking is here, but the girl he attacked with the hammer is doing exams today and cannot be here,” Det McLoughin explained.
“This bail hearing has caused serious anxiety for both of them, especially the girl doing her exams today.
“He’s a very intelligent man and if he’s granted bail, both women will be homeless this Christmas because they will have to leave their accommodation.
“They’ve told me that after he finishes whatever sentence he gets, they will have to leave Galway City because they will not feel safe once he’s free.
“Both of them are receiving counselling at the moment and this has had a very serious effect on their lives.”
Mr Patrick O’Sullivan BL, defending, said he was very conscious this was a bail hearing and he didn’t want to stray into evidence that would be given at the sentence hearing.
He noted the detective thought his client was intelligent, before suggesting the extent to which his client had co-operated during Garda interview, would not suggest he was intelligent.
“Are you suggesting that honestly shows a lack of intelligence?,” Judge Rory McCabe asked counsel.
Mr O’Sullivan replied he was merely saying his client had given more information to Det McLoughlin than what the Garda had been looking for.
Mr O’Sullivan said his client denied he had the knife found outside the apartment and it was quite possible the knife had been there already.
Det McLoughlin said he found that hard to believe but it was possible.
Mr O’Sullivan said his client’s father was prepared to enter into a bond and was in a position to lodge €18,000 in court to secure his son’s bail.
Det McLoughlin said nothing would allay his fears of the impact it would have on the victims if the accused was given bail. And he said he felt the injured parties would still be at risk from the accused.
“During interview, I could see no remorse from him. He couldn’t see what he did was wrong, including assaulting a female with a hammer,” he added.
Mr O’Sullivan said his client was prepared to stay out of Galway until his sentence hearing and if given a suspended sentence he would move to Dublin and attend college there next September.
Judge Rory McCabe said the accused had pleaded guilty to very serious offences which had a serious impact on the victims.
He said Lewandowski’s status had changed once he pleaded guilty last month and he could see no grounds for granting him bail this week knowing that sentence would be taking place next week.
He refused the bail application and remanded the accused in continuing custody to next week, December 18, for sentence.
Mr O’Sullivan asked for that date to be vacated as he needed time to secure a probation report and a psychological report on his client prior to sentence taking place.
The judge agreed and remanded Lewandowski in continuing custody to February 21 for sentence.
Missing man may be in Galway City
Gardaí in Cork believe that a man missing from Midleton since last week may be in Galway City. are renewing their appeal for assistance in locating 53-year-old French man Christophe Goutte, is missing from his home in O’Brien Terrace, Midleton since Wednesday 15th January.
From enquiries to date it is understood that Christophe took a bus from Cork Bus Station that Wednesday and disembarked at 5.35pm in Galway City. He is living in Ireland for a number of years.
Christophe was last seen leaving work in Carrigtowhill, Co. Cork at approximately 11am on Wednesday 15th.
He is described as being 5″ 8′ in height, of stocky build with brown short hair and white skin with a sallow complexion. When last seen he was wearing a black coat, black pants, a black woollen hat and a brown pair of boots, he was carrying a dark coloured overall bag.
Gardaí are particularly appealing to those in the Galway city or surrounding areas to report any recent sightings of Christophe.
City Council planning €2.5m bailout for Galway 2020
Galway City Council looks set to bail out Galway 2020 – with an additional grant of €2.5 million to cover the European Capital of Culture programming costs.
The local authority has already allocated €6 million for the project, which officially launches on Saturday, February 8, with an event in South Park, Claddagh.
But city councillors will be asked to approve a further €1.25 million in both 2021 and 2022, at a special meeting next Monday.
The city’s ratepayers may ultimately have to cover the extra costs. A 3% higher commercial rate, introduced in the build-up to this year, and retained in 2020 with agreement of business representatives, may be maintained into 2021 and 2022 if management City Hall has its way.
As well as having to find €2.5 million extra for Galway 2020, Chief Executive of the City Council, Brendan McGrath, will ask councillors to sanction a grant of €80,000 to Druid Theatre for a production it is planning for March of this year, which was not part of the original Galway 2020 programme.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.
Holders Rangers advance but Mervue Utd crash out
Soccer Wrap with Mike Rafferty
The returning Geoffrey Power was to the forefront for Corrib Rangers as the Connacht Junior Cup holders got the defence of their title off to a winning start in Drom on Sunday afternoon with a victory over Sligo visitors, MCR.
Salthill Devon, West United, Maree/Oranmore, East United and Hibernians also all advanced with different degrees of comfort, but there was a big shock as Mervue United suffered a three-goal hammering away against Manulla; while Knocknacarra, Renmore and Merlin Woods/Medtronic also all exited the competition in competitive games.
CONNACHT JUNIOR CUP
Corrib Rangers 4
The break-up of Brendan O’Connor’s Connacht Junior Cup winning side happened probably somewhat faster than the manager might have expected, but the return of Geoffrey Power at the weekend was a huge bonus as the striker contributed two goals as well as lifting a side that just seven months ago won the most coveted trophy in the province.
In a game switched to Drom because their own grounds at Westside are closed, the home side made the perfect start when Power got on the end of a long ball from Sean Keogh and drilled low shot into the corner.
However, the advantage was rather short-lived as a Keith Nibbs header levelled matters; before another set piece goal gave Rangers a 2-1 interval advantage as Stephen Gilmore got on the end of a Mark Wynne free kick to head home.
The Sligo visitors were displaying plenty of ability and they levelled matters for the second time when Ciaran Harvey applied the finish on this occasion with another header to tie up matters at 2-2 on the hour mark.
In a contest in which numerous opportunities were created at both ends, it was Rangers who regained the advantage when Paul Smith linked up with Keogh before slotting home to make it 3-2.
Rangers goalkeeper Shane Richardson continued to play his part with some smashing saves, and as the game entered the final minute, it was Power who again applied the finish that sealed the win and will also act as a confidence booster for a side struggling somewhat in the Premier League.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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