THE former girlfriend of a bank official forced to hand over €7.6m during a tiger kidnapping is suing the bank for alleged negligence.
Stephanie Smith (24) was in a relationship with Bank of Ireland (BOI) employee Shane Travers who on February 26, 2006, was forced, while armed masked robbers held her and two of her family members hostage, to hand over the money taken from BOI's premises at College Green, Dublin.
She claims she suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and depression as a result of her ordeal.
In her action against the Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland, Ms Smith a hairdresser from Stonebridge House, Badger Hill, Kill, Co Kildare, says the bank failed to have any regard for the health and safety of its employee's cohabitants.
It is also claimed BOI exposed her to a foreseeable security related injury and to danger and injury which it ought to have known. BOI failed in its duty of care to her, it is further alleged.
BOI denies all the claims against it. In its defence, BOI denies it owes Ms Smith any duty of care.
Yesterday, when the matter came before High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, he directed trial of a preliminary issue before the main case.
The issue is whether, on the facts pleaded, BOI owed a duty of care to Ms Smith at common law or had a statutory duty in the terms pleaded in her personal injuries summons.
In his ruling, the Judge said while what had happened to Ms Smith was "horrific", he agreed with lawyers for the bank that what was "a novel" claim should be tried on a preliminary issue.
In her statement of claim, Ms Smith says that on the date of the robbery she and her mother were approached by an armed gang of masked men outside Ms Smith's home. In an ensuing struggle both women were assaulted and injured by the robbers.
Mr Travers, who was her cohabitant at the time, and her young nephew were present in the house at the time.
All four were taken captive. It is claimed the robbers, who tied their hands with cable and put tape over their eyes knew a lot about her family.
She claims they were also threatened by the gang members. Mr Travers was warned he would be kneecapped, while at another stage of the robbery one of the gang threatened "to blow her head off."
She claims they were told nothing would happen to them if Mr Travers "did what he was told." Mr Travers was eventually taken away, while Ms Smith, her mother and her nephew were bundled into the back of a van.
It is claimed they were driven for an hour before being informed Mr Travers and other gang members had successfully entered the bank.
While they were in the van the robbers poured detergent in an attempt to clean up the scene. Ms Smith feared it was petrol and they they would be burned alive.
After the gang members left the van, Ms Smith managed to free her self and the others. They were picked up in Ashbourne Co Meath and were taken to a Garda Station before being moved to hospital.
Since the incident she and Mr Travers split up. She claims her life has deteriorated.
She says she suffers from flashbacks and nightmares, and cannot sleep with the lights off. She also claims she has undergone counselling.
Prior to the kidnapping she had been an outgoing young woman, the court was told.