Boylesports ordered to pay damages to customer for defamation
A punter, who was refused a bet in Boylesports after having been mistaken for another man who had “wrecked the place” by throwing chairs at a television a few days earlier, has been awarded damages against the bookie for defamation.
Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke said a Boylesports manager had been reckless by not showing his deputy manager a photograph of the person responsible for having previouslythrown chairs around the shop.
Christopher Sower today told the Circuit Civil Court that in November 2013 he had approached the counter at Boylesports in Parkwest, Dublin, to place a bet, when he was told by the deputy manager, Ms Ashley Fitzpatrick, that his bet could not be accepted.
Sower, of Priority Park, Johnstown, Navan, Co Meath, told his barrister, Bonnie Hickey, that he had initially thought Fitzpatrick had been joking, and he had repeated the details of his bet.
Ms Hickey, who appeared with solicitor Thomas Quigley, said her client claimed that Ms Fitzpatrick had replied: “You’ll have to leave the shop. My manager has told me not to take your bets as you are barred.”
Ms Fitzpatrick had then gone on to say: “You were throwing chairs around the shop the other night. You’re not being served and that’s it.”
Sower, who works in the Parkwest area, said he had been mortified and embarrassed, as Ms Fitzpatrick’s remarks had been overheard by some people he knew.
He had phoned Boylesports customer service a few days later and had refused an offer by regional manager, Dearbhla Ronayne, of an apology and a free €100 bet.
Boylesports admitted that Ms Fitzpatrick had made a mistake, but denied liability in a full defence to Sower’s court proceedings, arguing that she had realised her error that day while speaking to Sower and had immediately apologised to him.
Ms Fitzpatrick told the court that her manager had told her of the chairs-throwing incident involving a stocky man that she had served a few times and that she was to bar him if he came in. She had thought Sower to have been that man.
Boylesports had also claimed that it was not likely that any customer present in the shop that day had been aware of the alleged defamatory incident.
Awarding Sower €5,000 damages - a 50/1 increase on the free bet offer by Boylesports - Judge Groarke said he was satisfied Mr Sower had been defamed but there had been very limited publication of the defamatory words.