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Woman who ended Dublin sex attacker’s reign of terror says 35 year sentence 'is fantastic’

‘It’s the longest sentence ever handed down in this country to an offender in this capacity and it really sends a message’

Ruth Maxwell

Pic shows: Slawomir Gierlowski

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

A woman who fought off a serial sex offender has spoken out after his sentence for an attack on another woman saw his overall prison term increased to 35 years.

Ruth Maxwell was targeted by convicted sex offender Slawomir Gierlowski while she was walking to the Luas to go to work in May 2016.

The man put a hunting knife to her throat as he tried to drag her back to his van, but Ms Maxwell escaped. She grabbed the blade, causing it to sever the tendons in three fingers.

She is credited with ending Gierlowski's reign of terror in Dublin and the man has been in custody since 2016.

Serial attacker Gierlowski has now had his 28-and-a-half year sentence extended for a further six years for the attack of a fifth woman in 2011.

He is serving consecutive sentences for random outdoor attacks on five women between 2010 to 2016.

Ruth Maxwell welcomed the extension of Gierlowski’s jail term, describing the wait for justice as “gruelling” for the woman attacked in a park in 2011.

“The sentencing collectively is absolutely fantastic for all of these women,” she told Morning Ireland today.

"I mean it’s the longest sentence that has ever been handed down in the country to an offender in this kind of capacity and it really sends a message on the seriousness of this crime and how this can’t be tolerated.”

However, Ruth said “more could be done” for each woman in terms of individual sentencing and the psychological injuries they endured.

Providing supports for victims of sexual crimes should be a “matter of urgency” for the Minister for Justice, Maxwell told Morning Ireland.

Noeline Blackwell, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre said Gierlowski’s sentence is so long as each crime added to his time in prison, rather than being served consecutively.

“You can sentence someone for what they’ve done, but you cannot change their mind but you can aim to show them the error of their ways and that’s really in all of our interest as a society,” she said.

It is important that they have the opportunity to “reflect on the harm that they’ve done.”

Ms Blackwell said more must be done to help victims with the psychological injuries they experience, not just the physical.

"The mental health supports are way under what is needed,” she told Morning Ireland.

Pic shows: Slawomir Gierlowski

"We need much greater understanding that psychological harm can do damage to a person every bit as seriously if not more seriously than physical harm.”

Monday’s sentence hearing heard the woman, who was attacked by Gierlowski while she walked in a local park in 2011, continues to suffer the impacts of the attack almost ten years later.

"I felt something was taken,” she told the court this year. “I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I would not get it back.”

She said the incident affected her husband and has changed their relationship. At the time of the attack, they were recently married.

In her victim impact statement, she said she felt “incapable of being a wife and a mother” in the aftermath of the attack.

The woman had loved to take long walks in the park before the attack, but now could not even walk with her children. She has since moved from the area, the place she grew up.

Last year, Ruth Maxwell told the Sunday World that Gierlowski “was escalating to be a serial killer.”

"The look of evil… it's not what you would expect evil to look like.”

"It's not like what you see in the movies. He looked like a regular person and even had a degree of handsomeness about him,” she said.

"And I had no doubt in my mind, if I hadn't grabbed the knife with my hand that morning, he was going to slit my throat."

"That was the moment that has left me with fear in every aspect of my everyday life.”

Gierlowski moved to Ireland from Poland in 2008. He has 2 children and is in a relationship with a partner who continues to stand by him, the court recently heard.

He will now serve 34-and-a-half-years in prison.

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