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Courts

Man (44) found not guilty of false imprisonment and assault of young woman in Waterford city

Niall Flynn, junior counsel, said the jury was “deprived” of key evidence, including half a dozen eye witnesses and medical records.

A MAN HAS been found not guilty of assault and falsely imprisoning a young woman at a basement in Waterford city. 

Vytautas Siaulys, 44, with an address provided at Thomas Street, Waterford, but who is now living in Longford, told the court he was misidentified and forced to work for a Lithuanian crime gang selling drugs at a house on Henrietta Street, on the edge of Waterford’s medieval tourism spot, the Viking Triangle.

The defence had contended that gardaí and the complainant Tammy Dowdall, 22, from Cappoquin, had misidentified the defendant and that the house was actually kept by a man named Viktor at the time the alleged crimes took place on June 23-24, 2019.

She alleged she was threatened with having her breasts and fingers cut off and was not allowed to leave the house after going there to buy weed. Ms Dowdall, who was 19-years-old at the time of the incident, insisted that Vytautas Siaulys was also known in Waterford as Viktor.

Her account was supported by two gardaí but a jury returned a verdict of not guilty on both counts after deliberating last Friday at Waterford’s Circuit Criminal Court. 

Niall Flynn, junior counsel, said the jury was “deprived” of key evidence, including half a dozen eye witnesses and medical records for Ms Dowdall.

During a three hour long cross-examination, the investigating Garda was criticised after he told the court that there had been no briefings with superiors on the case and that he had worked on it alone. 

Mr Flynn said Garda Iain O’Byrne had “jumped to a conclusion” in pinning the matter case Mr Siaulys after Ms Dowdall made contact with gardaí. 

Garda O’Byrne agreed with this saying it was because he “knew the defendant from my work in the community”. 

He received support from Garda John O’Connor, who detailed drug investigation surveillance and raids on the Henrietta Street property and also identified the accused as a man in CCTV footage shown from a Poleberry post office. 

His height, his grey hair and his missing a number of teeth were what made Garda O’Byrne “100 percent confident”.

A lack of DNA analysis was also criticised, however State prosecutor Ray Boland SC said this was understandable as there were no signs of blood on Ms Dowdall when she first contacted gardaí. Photographs of bruises to her thighs were shown to the court.

The defence maintained that Mr Siaulys, who required an interpreter, came to Ireland weeks prior to the incident, with very little English and had been living in a tent beside the Tower Hotel up the road from Henrietta Street.

In a Garda interview he said he came to Dublin from Lithuania on promise of work but found his passport taken by his fellow countrymen.

He was then brought to Waterford and “forced to sell drugs”, he said.

He said he saw “cruel and horrible” things where drug addicts would receive violent beatings in the house.

“They used to beat people with a hammer on the fingertips,” he said. “I didn’t take part.”

During cross-examination, Ms Dowdall said she felt she could not leave as she was “terrified” for her life. 

When she confirmed she had her phone on her at all times, she was asked why she didn’t alert gardaí. 

“How could I escape? If I tried to escape he would have beat me more.”

Ms Dowdall, who broke down in tears several times, said she was “in shock” and felt “disgusted” with herself in the aftermath. 

“I wanted to kill myself,” she said. “I wanted to die, it was that bad.”

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