Man convicted of partner’s murder loses Supreme Court appeal

Judge dismisses Waldemar Solowiow’s appeal based on his credibility as a witness

 Waldemar Solowiow (48) had denied the murder of Mary Ryan (37) but pleaded guilty to her manslaughter at the flat on Sherrard Street Upper, Dublin, between May 18th and 19th, 2012. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Waldemar Solowiow (48) had denied the murder of Mary Ryan (37) but pleaded guilty to her manslaughter at the flat on Sherrard Street Upper, Dublin, between May 18th and 19th, 2012. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

 

A man jailed for life for the murder of his partner, whom he blamed for being evicted from his Dublin flat, has lost his Supreme Court appeal against his conviction.

Waldemar Solowiow (48) had denied the murder of Mary Ryan (37) but pleaded guilty to her manslaughter at the flat on Sherrard Street Upper, Dublin, between May 18th and 19th, 2012.

Ms Ryan was rushed to hospital unconscious at about 11am on May 19th but died almost immediately due to neck compression and blunt force trauma to the head.

Solowiow, who is originally from Poland, said they had a physical fight on the night of May 18th, some hours after his landlord said they would have to leave the flat. There had been complaints by neighbours after drunken and disruptive behaviour by Ms Ryan, he said.

Solowiow said the row happened after both had a lot to drink and he was angry with Ms Ryan because they might both be on the streets with nowhere to live. He said he was provoked and did not mean to kill her.

After being found guilty of her murder by a majority jury verdict in the Central Criminal Court, he was jailed for life in October 2013. He lost an appeal to the Court of Appeal but pursued a further appeal to the Supreme Court on a point of law of general public importance.

The core issue centred on how the trial judge charged the jury, in the context of his provocation defence, regarding earlier lies told by Solowiow to gardaí about how Ms Ryan came to her death.

He initially claimed she was attacked on the street by three men and persisted with that false account in a number of interviews before eventually admitting responsibility for killing her.

His lawyers argued the trial judge should have explicitly warned the jury that lies of this type may be as consistent with a defendant who has been “provoked” in the legal sense as one who has been guilty of murder. It was submitted the trial judge failed to draw that distinction, making his charge flawed.

Dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice John MacMenamin said the paramount issue at trial was not the lies told immediately after the killing but the defendant’s credibility as a witness when he gave evidence of the events of May 18th and 19th, 2012.

While Solowiow claimed Ms Ryan started the fight and attacked him, that was irreconcilable with the severe injuries to her face and body and significant brain damage, he said.

Another issue was his delay seeking help. While the fight apparently occurred during the night or early morning , he sought emergency assistance for Ms Ryan only at about 11am on May 19th after he had spoken to friends.