A man, wrongfully arrested the same night as his fiancée was savagely beaten by another man in a random street attack, has been awarded more than €1m by a High Court jury.
Gerald Jennings, 34, a property manager and former minor footballer for Carlow, sued the Garda Commissioner and the State over his arrest on 2 December 2012 in Carlow town.
The court heard gardaí wrongly suspected him of having attacked his fiancée, Martha Kowalczyk.
A 26-year-old student, Colvin Keogh from the Paddocks in Carlow, was later jailed for seven years for assault causing serious harm and sexual assault.
The State denied the claims and said reasonable force was used to detain Mr Jennings who resisted arrest.
Following an 11-day case, the jury found the actions of gardaí were not reasonably necessary for the purpose of affecting a lawful arrest of Mr Jennings in good faith for breach of the peace and being drunk and disorderly.
They also found his detention was unlawful.
The jury assessed general damages at €819,550 and exemplary damages at €333,000 - a total of €1,152,000.
A stay on the award was granted in the event of an appeal on condition that €150,000 is paid to Mr Jennings.
He was also awarded costs.
The jury of six women and five men, deliberated for nearly six-and-half hours over two days.
The court had heard that as a result of his treatment at the hands of gardaí, including being pepper sprayed in the eyes three times, Mr Jennings was diagnosed with post traumatic stress.
The incident arose after gardaí were called to deal with the attack on Mr Jennings' fiancée.
Ms Kowalczyk, a beautician, refused to go to hospital in an ambulance until gardaí checked on Mr Jennings first.
She feared her attacker had got the keys to her apartment where a short time earlier she had left Mr Jennings sleeping.
Mr Jennings said his "nightmare" started when he was woken in the apartment by three gardaí, who asked him to go out to see his girlfriend who was sitting in the ambulance.
Sergeant Theresa Phillips began to caution Mr Jennings as to his right to remain silent after one of the other officers noticed a handbag which the gardaí understood had been taken from Ms Kowalczyk in the attack.
Mr Jennings, who gardaí said was drunk and abusive, demanded to know what was going on.
He went out on to the street, he was pepper sprayed, handcuffed. He denied he was abusive or aggressive.
Before he was put into a garda van, Sgt Phillips said to him: "You may hit your girlfriend but you won't hit me". He claimed she actually said: "That's what you get for beating your girlfriend, you dirty scumbag."
At Carlow Garda Station, he said he was twice taken into the yard to have his eyes washed out with a hose in temperatures of minus two degrees before he was put into a cold cell still wearing his water-soaked shirt.
Later, when his sister arrived at the station, at which point he had learned gardaí knew the man who attacked his fiancée had been wearing different trousers to him, he sought an apology from Sgt Phillips for the "dirty scumbag" remark.
He said she replied: "You are the real hero, always thinking about yourself all the time". She denied this conversation took place.
Ms Kowalczyk told the court she repeatedly told gardaí she did not know her attacker but that they told her as she sat in the ambulance she should "admit my fiancée did it and it was not right to try to protect him". Gardaí denied this.
When she got to Kilkenny hospital, staff refused to accept her wish that Mr Jennings be recorded as next of kin.
Ms Kowalczyk broke down crying when giving evidence of the assault which was captured in graphic and shocking CCTV footage shown to the court.
Mr Jennings sister, Catherine, told the court when she went to the garda station to see her brother, Sgt Phillips asked had Gerald ever been violent before and spoke about domestic violence, that nine times out of ten it was the boyfriend who was the perpetrator.
Sgt Phillips believed Mr Jennings was still the main suspect in the attack up to 24 hours later, the court heard.
In a statement issued through his solicitor, Brian Gill from Callan Tansey solicitors, Mr Jennings said the verdict sent a strong message to the public that the high standard of conduct expected from gardaí was not met in this case.
He said those who enforce the law must keep it. He also said that he hoped the necessary lessons would be learnt from the case.
He also said he hoped what happened to him never happened to any other citizens and that he and his fiancée, their son and their families could put this "painful experience" behind them and move on with the rest of their lives.