Rape victim asks court to freeze compensation award to attacker

Court of Appeal awarded €17,000 to Darius Savickis over assault by a prison officer

A rape victim is seeking court orders freezing a €17,225 award made to her attacker pending her own civil action for damages against him.

The award was made by the Court of Appeal last month to Darius Savickis over an assault on him by a prison officer while he was serving his sentence in Castlerea Prison. The appeal court increased a €225 award made to him by a jury at the High Court.

Savickis (46), a father of two originally from Lithuania, was serving a six-year sentence at the time after he pleaded guilty in July 2009 to orally raping the then 23-year-old woman when she was walking home from work in Galway on November 28th, 2005.

At the High Court on Thursday, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan was told by Conor Power SC, for the woman, she has initiated a civil action against Savickis seeking damages for alleged assault and the injuries suffered in the attack.

She also suffered from post traumatic stress disorder over what happened to her, counsel said.

Counsel said Savickis had been released from prison after completing his sentence but his client and her lawyers did not know where he is now.

Freezing order

His client wanted a freezing order over the award to Savickis until her civil action was determined.

If the High Court was to find in the woman’s favour and award her damages, she feared the sum awarded to Savickis could be dissipated, counsel said.

Correspondence from lawyers representing Savickis had stated the woman’s claim will be opposed on grounds including it is brought outside the applicable time limits, he said.

Mr Justice Gilligan granted the ex parte application for permission to serve short notice of the proceedings on Savickis and returned the matter to next week.

Last month, the Court of Appeal increased a €225 award made to Savickis by a High Court jury to €17,225.

In its judgment, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said some of the Castlerea Prison officers who gave evidence in the jury civil action taken by Savickis over the assault on him had regrettably "told lies".

The judge found, some months into his sentence, he was involved in an incident in which he refused to go out to the exercise yard because he was not wearing socks or a jumper.

He held onto a rail and a prison officer put him in a headlock while four or five other officers moved in and prised him from the railings to totally subdue him.

Mr Justice Hogan said it was clear from the CCTV evidence Savickis did not attempt to strike out at the officers and did no more than cling to the railing.

It was clear, as he was being subdued, he was struck some three or four times with punches to the chest by a particular officer, the judge said.

In Savickis’s High Court action, the jury rejected the majority of his claims but did find unreasonable force had been used by the officers. It concluded Savickis was 95 per cent responsible, with the effect its €4,500 award to him was cut to just €224.

He appealed that outcome, arguing the jury findings were essentially perverse and unsupported by the evidence.