A woman, who claimed she was told to take off her jeans when going through a security check at Castlerea Prison, and as a result accidentally dropped her underwear leaving her exposed for a short time, has lost her damages action against the State.

Nataliya Matviyenko, a Russian speaking Ukrainian, claimed she was told by a prison officer to take off her jeans because they contained decorative metal buttons or studs before going through a metal detector while visiting her husband in the prison.

Today, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said he accepted Ms Matviyenko "genuinely believed" she was asked to remove her trousers, when in fact the prison officer wanted her to remove her shoes.

The judge said he could not accept the State had breached its duty of care towards her as it could not have been reasonably foreseeable that she would react in the manner that she did.

In the circumstances the judge dismissed her case.

She had sued the Governor of Castlerea Prison, Irish Prison Service and the Minister for Justice, claiming damages for alleged negligence and breach of duty arising out of the incident that occurred on 6 May 2009.

The claims were denied. 

The State argued she was never asked to remove her trousers while going through the prison's screening process.

Ms Matviyenko, a naturalised Irish citizen, said she felt "humiliated", "embarrassed" and like "someone had poured a bucket of dirt over my head," as a result of the incident.

The 39-year-old mother of two, of Leas na Coille, Ballybane, Galway, claimed she went to the prison to visit her partner, now her husband, and to give him a legal document.

He was then serving a sentence for drink driving.

She had to pass through a security process, similar to going through security at an airport.

She said she had, as instructed, placed some outer garments items in a tray to pass through an x-ray machine.

Before she went through a metal detector, she said she showed the prison officer metal studs or buttons on her jeans.

The officer told her to take them off and she believed this meant take off her trousers and she complied, she claimed.

She claims she dropped her trousers as far as her knees and that process also accidentally pulled down her underwear, leaving her exposed for a short period.

The claims were denied.

In evidence, Ciaran Croghan, a prison officer, said Ms Matviyenko was never asked to remove her trousers.

He said he asked Ms Matviyenko, when she was going through the security screening process, to place her outer garments, including a belt, jacket and shoes on a tray to be scanned by an x-ray machine.

He said she told him what was required of her was "stupid" and she should not have to do this.

He told her this was standard procedure and she was not being "singled out", he said.

Ms Matviyenko said she had metal studs or buttons on her jeans that might set off the metal detector and he told her that was not a problem, he said.

Just after asking her to remove her shoes, Ms Matviyenko dropped her trousers, he said. He was "shocked".

His superior officer Chief Officer James Kelly was called to the scene.

He told the court when he asked her why she dropped her trousers, she replied she was "sorry", and she "should not have done it".

In his ruling the judge, who viewed video evidence of the incident, accepted she was "a sincere person" who had a "genuine belief" on the day in question that she was requested to remove her jeans while passing through the security screening process.

The judge added that he did not accept she took down her jeans in order to "insult officer Croghan or anybody else".

On the day in question, she got a lift to the prison from somebody who was waiting outside and was anxious to get back to Galway.

She also had to give her husband an important document, the judge said.

However, the judge said it could not have been "reasonably foreseeable" that Ms Matviyenko, who he said has a limited command of English, would have interpreted an instruction from the prison officer to mean she had to remove her trousers before passing through the metal detector.

In relations to costs of the two-day action, the judge questioned that perhaps the matter could have been sorted out a lot sooner than it was.

Following the judge's remarks Conor Power SC, appearing with Alex Caffrey Bl, for the State said it was not seeking its costs against Ms Matviyenko.

The judge made no order for costs.