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.
Titans return to the national league for coming season
TITANS BC is returning to the national league for the upcoming 2020/21 season, one of four new teams that will compete in the Men’s Division 1 this year.
The city side will play in the Northern Conference of the league alongside fellow new sides, Drogheda Wolves and Malahide, along with Ulster University from Belfast; LYIT from Donegal; Sligo All-Stars; and Dublin Lions and Tolka Rovers from Dublin.
That looks to be the easier of the two conferences: Dublin Lions were relegated from the Super League at the end of last season, LYIT finished 5th in Division 1, Sligo finished 8th, Ulster University finished 9th, and Tolka Rovers finished 10th in a 12-team league competition that ran as a single league, rather than split into two conferences.
With four new teams for the coming season – Team Kerry are the 4th new side – Division 1 is returning to a split conference format, and all the heavy-hitters would appear to be in the Southern Conference.
Team Kerry will be joined by fellow Killarney side, St Paul’s, which finished second in the league last season, as well as Cork’s Fr Mathews and IT Carlow, who finished 3rd and 4th respectively.
Limerick Celtics and Limerick Eagles, who finished 6th and 7th, are also in the Southern Conference, as well as last season’s bottom two, WIT Waterford and Portlaoise Panthers.
Titans took a one-year hiatus from the league last season, having endured a torrid 2018/19 campaign when it finished with the worst record in the league, winning just two of its 23 league games to finish bottom of the Northern Conference.
Maree and Moycullen will once again represent Galway in the Men’s Super League, which is also being split into a two-conference format, with six teams in each conference. However, while Titans will be looking north for their main opposition, Maree and Moycullen will be looking in the opposite direction as both have been placed in the South Conference.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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Group hurling ties to be restricted to supporters of participating teams
NO neutrals will be allowed to attend the opening round of the revamped Galway senior hurling championship which is scheduled to start in little more than a fortnight’s time.
A gathering of 500 – likely to also include the rival players and mentors – will be restricted to each group game, with the participating clubs set to be allocated around 200 tickets each for sale/distribution ahead of the fixture.
A mechanism has still to be sorted for this process, but matches will be restricted to Galway’s three county grounds: Pearse Stadium, Kenny Park, Athenry and Duggan Park, Ballinasloe, along with Loughrea. Killimor was the fifth venue in consideration for hosting senior games, but redevelopment work at the ground has ruled out that prospect.
The full round of 12 group ties will go ahead on the weekend ending July 26, but there will be no double headers. Instead, games at the same venues will be staged four hours apart to allow sanitisation of the various grounds.
Only people with tickets will gain entry to the games and there will be no cash taken at the turnstiles.
Street fight thugs from viral video outside Garda HQ avoid jail
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Two men and a woman who were involved in a ‘staged’ fistfight outside the new Garda HQ in Renmore were warned they will serve prison sentences if they don’t stay off social media for two years.
Suspended sentences were imposed on all three over the incident which was recorded on mobile phone and footage went viral on social media.
The altercation between John Maughan (27), formerly of Rinville Park, Oranmore, who now lives in Dublin, and Patrick Maughan (31), of 122 Laurel Park, Newcastle, was filmed on Patrick Maughan’s phone by his wife, Ellen Maughan (31), who is John Maughan’s sister.
The footage was uploaded that evening to YouTube, where it gained a lot of traction.
Galway District Court heard this week the trio were sitting in their cars when Gardaí arrived at the scene within a matter of minutes.
They were subsequently charged with affray at Dublin Road, Murrough, Renmore, on November 2, 2018, in that all three used or threatened to use violence towards each other, thereby putting other people present in fear for their own safety and the safety of others.
Both men were also charged with breaching the peace.
Garda Pat Casey told the sentence hearing the incident occurred at 2.30pm on the main road between GMIT and the Garda HQ.
He said the men’s cars met, whether by accident or design, at that location where they got out and had a fist fight in the middle of the road.
Judge Mary Fahy asked if the location chosen for the fight, right outside the new Garda HQ, was deliberate.
Garda Casey said the men claimed they met by accident, “but that was where they met”, he added.
“The inference is they did it deliberately outside the Station to make it even better on social media. They are an absolute disgrace to do that in public and to do it in front of their children,” Judge Fahy said.
This is a shortened preview version of this court report. To read the article in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.