Stalker released before laws pioneered by victim will be enacted

Stalker released before laws pioneered by victim will be enacted

A woman who has been living in fear since her stalker was released from prison has Thursday has said she is angry that legislation she helped pioneer has not been enacted soon enough to protect her.

Eve McDowell from Galway joined with Cork woman Una Ring to campaign for legislation to make stalking a standalone offence. 

However, the legislation, the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, has not been enacted, with a Department of Justice spokesman saying it will be done before the summer recess at the latest.

But that is too late to help protect Eve, as her stalker, Igor Lewandowski, from Monasteravin in Co Kildare, and formerly of Dunaras, Bishop O’Donnell Rd, Galway, was released from prison on February 23. In May 2020, he was sentenced to seven years in prison with the final two years suspended for five years.

He had been arrested in May 2019 after breaking into Ms McDowell’s apartment in Galway armed with a claw hammer, and assaulting her housemate. He pleaded guilty to harassment and aggravated assault.

In her victim impact statement read into evidence at his sentence hearing, Ms McDowell said she feared for her life once Lewandowski was released from custody.

The new legislation is based on a bill written by Fianna Fáil senator Lisa Chambers who worked on it last year with Ms McDowell and Ms Ring.

Ms McDowell says that as of now, she has no legal protection from Lewandowski as barring, safety, or protection orders cannot be obtained by her against him because she was not in a relationship with him.

Campaigners Una Ring and Eve McDowell. Picture:

She had expected Lewandowski to be released in April and had planned to move away from Galway. However, she said she only discovered his release was due last week when she contacted the Irish Prison Service a month ago, adding that she was given two different dates for his release — both for last week.

“The legislation I was working on with Una allows for civil protection orders — that was supposed to be in a long time ago,” she said. 

“Now they are saying it will be in before the summer — it is moving to the next stage the week of March 28.

If that was in place now, then I would be able to apply for a protection order. 

“I have had to fork out money for counselling, for security cameras, I have fallen behind in college. It has a huge knock-on effect.”

More protection

The new legislation will allow victims to seek barring orders in the civil courts, to give them more protection. These orders will require a lower burden of proof, and can be applied for by the affected person themselves, or by gardaí on their behalf.

A Depart

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