Sunday 28 May 2017

Girls get €45,000 for false theft accusation

Left to right, Mairead O’Reilly, Roisin Ward and Aoife Fox leaving court yesterday after settling their defamation action
Left to right, Mairead O’Reilly, Roisin Ward and Aoife Fox leaving court yesterday after settling their defamation action

Ray Managh

THREE schoolgirls who went on a special shopping trip to mark one of their birthdays were wrongly accused of shoplifting and held against their will in a small room for almost half an hour, a judge heard yesterday.

Barrister Colette Egan told the Circuit Civil Court that four years after their traumatic experience, the security firm involved -- Chubb Ireland Ltd -- agreed to pay each of the girls €15,000 compensation for defamation and false imprisonment.

All three schoolgirls agreed to accept the €45,000 damages, which will be lodged in court until they are 18.

The pals are Roisin Ward, who was 17 yesterday, of Croboy, Hill of Down, Enfield, Co Meath; Aoife Fox, of The Burrows, Killaskillen, Kinnegad, Co Meath; and Mairead O'Reilly, Coralstown, Kinnegad, Co Westmeath, both of whom were 17 last month.

Ms Egan told Judge Jacqueline Linnane that the three girls had gone shopping in the Liffey Valley Centre, Lucan, Co Dublin, on September 8, 2007, and had visited the cosmetics department in Boots.

The court heard that Chubb Ireland, of Stillorgan Industrial Park, Blackrock, Co Dublin, had indemnified Boots, against which all court action was struck out.

Ms Egan said that after completing their shopping the girls left the store only to be accosted in the mall by a security man. He told them "back to Boots" and, with a colleague, herded them in public view back into the store.

Ms Egan said the girls had been taken to a small room, where they had been held for 25 minutes and had their bags searched. They had been released only after producing receipts for all of their purchases in Boots and other stores in the centre.

Ms Egan told the court that while detained in the room Aoife's mobile phone had rung. By coincidence it had been her mother -- but Mrs Fox had been told she could not join the girls.

Aoife had been told to hang up and hand over her phone. Later Mrs Fox met the girls in the centre and had taken them back into the store to query what had happened.

Mrs Fox insisted on calling the gardai, who had calmed the girls after finding out a mistake had been made.

Judge Linnane approved of the €45,000 block settlement offer with costs by Chubb Ireland Ltd. She said Roisin, Mairead and Aoife had suffered a very disturbing experience and she hoped they could put it all behind them.

Irish Independent

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