€20,000 for couple wrongly accused of not paying for lunch
A couple who were accused of not paying for a family meal in a restaurant have been awarded €20,000 damages for defamation of character.
Patrick O'Connor told Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke he felt he had no choice but to empty out his pockets on a service counter at the Arc Bar and Restaurant in Lucan, Co Dublin, in a search for a receipt he believed he had never been given in the first place.
Mr O'Connor's partner, Tanya Shannon, said she had to endure him being aggressively accused of not having paid for four meals for themselves and two children which she said he had done.
Barrister Ian Fitzharris, counsel for the couple, told the court they and their two children, with their niece in a buggy, had bought four meals from the pub carvery in September 2010 and paid a man at the till at the end of the counter.
Mr O'Connor said that as the family started gathering up their things to leave, a man had approached them and asked had they paid.
When told they had paid another man at the till, the first man said: "I was at the till and you didn't pay me."
Mr O'Connor said he and his partner and children, who live at Harelawn Avenue, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, had not been allowed to leave the restaurant until eventually "the other man" had returned to the restaurant and confirmed the meals had been paid for some 40 minutes earlier.
Mr O'Connor and Ms Shannon said "the other man" had then given them a hand-written note confirming payment for the lunches.
Mr Fitzharris told the court that the defendant, Lackabeg Limited, which trades as The Arc Bar and Restaurant, had not entered an appearance and judgment had been obtained against them.
He said no-one had turned up in court to defend the couple's claims and the matter had been reduced to an assessment of damages.
Judge Groarke awarded Mr O'Connor and Ms Shannon €10,000 damages each for defamation of character and awarded costs against the defendant in both cases.