TWO schoolgirls were awarded over €10,500 each after being falsely accused of shoplifting when they agreed to help an old lady carry her shopping bags across a street.
Barrister Conor Bowman told the Circuit Civil Court that Danielle Meehan (17) and Lauren Matthews (13) -- who were innocent -- were corralled by security men on the Dublin street, along with the old woman, who was a well-known shoplifter, and herded back into a Marks & Spencer's store.
Judge Leonie Reynolds said Danielle and Lauren, who were being "Good Samaritans", had been defamed and falsely imprisoned by the store's security staff.
Judge Reynolds awarded Danielle, now aged 21, and Lauren, who will soon turn 17, €8,000 each damages for defamation of character and another €2,500 each for false imprisonment, along with their legal costs.
On November 14, 2008, the girls from Gardini Lane, Raheny, Dublin, had visited Marks & Spencer's store at the Jervis Shopping Centre in the city centre.
Outside the Mary Street exit an elderly woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had asked them to help her across the street with her shopping bags. The girls agreed to help and had taken some of her bags.
As they were standing with the woman, the trio had been surrounded by members of Securitas Security Services, who had followed the old woman out of the store.
The girls were detained despite having told security staff they did not know the old woman. The woman also told staff she did not know who the girls were.
The judge made the award jointly against Marks & Spencer (Ireland) Ltd, Mary Street, Dublin, and Securitas Security Services (Ireland) Ltd, Lyon House, Nore Road, Dublin Industrial Estate.