Man falsely accused of stealing €2 pastry from Centra awarded €20,000
A man who claimed he was falsely accused of not paying for a pastry was awarded €20,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court for defamation.
Anthony Maher claimed that on August 7, 2014, he paid for items at a Centra store in west Dublin and was followed outside by two staff members.
Mr Maher, of McWilliam Parade, Fortunestown, Tallaght, Dublin, said that one of them, Marian Fletcher, told him that he had not paid for the €2 jambon pastry from the deli.
He told his barrister, Maeve Cox, that he was asked to go back into the store and pointed out the cashier who served him.
Mr Maher said that because the cashier had not remembered him, he had asked for the till and security cameras to be checked, arguing he was not a thief. There had been customers inside and outside the store on Blackhorse Avenue, Corduff, Blanchardstown, Dublin.
Ms Cox, who appeared with John O'Leary Solicitors, said Mr Maher was eventually informed that it was OK.
Mr Maher, who sued Damast Limited, which trades as Centra Corduff, of Invermore Grove, The Donahies, Donaghmede, alleged that words spoken meant that he was guilty of criminal or dishonest conduct, was a thief, a liar and a person of disreputable and low moral character.
The store denied his allegations in a full defence. It denied he had been followed - and alleged Ms Fletcher had just questioned him about the deli item at the till.
Judge Francis Comerford said shops were entitled to enquire about their goods in a reasonable manner. He said in this case, the defendant denied the incident described by Mr Maher had happened at all.
The judge said the store ignored six letters sent by Mr Maher's legal team and started to reply only after he had issued legal proceedings. Awarding €20,000 damages, he said he would have expected the store to answer the initial letters.