Sunday 17 November 2019

Man's toy duck defamation case dismissed

David Mongan arriving at the Four Courts today
David Mongan arriving at the Four Courts today

Aodhan O'Faolain

A MAN'S claim that he was defamed after being falsely accused of stealing a toy duck has been dismissed.

David Mongan's action, which was in its third day before a High Court jury, was struck out following legal argument made on behalf of the defendants.


Mr Mongan (28) claimed he was defamed when a security guard at Smyths Toy Superstores on the Belgard Road Tallaght, Dublin, on November 27, 2007, asked him in a loud voice in front of other shoppers "Where is the duck. I know you have it. I want to see it. Take it out. I'd like to see where the duck is and what have you done with it."


Mr Mongan, a member of the Travelling Community, of Owendoher Haven, Ballyboden, Rathfarnham Dublin 16 brought a High Court action seeking damages against Smyth's Toys, Smyth's Toy's Holdings, and Smyth's Toys properties Ltd, and security company  Goldforce Ltd T/a Goldforce Security Management.


He alleged that following the incident he suffered from depression, which became so bad that at one point he considered taking his own life. The defendants had denied all the claims against them.


Today, in a ruling following the completion of evidence in the case Mr Justice Eamon De Valera dismissed the action. The Judge, following an application by Joe McGettigan SC for the defence, said he was satisfied that it had not been proven there was  malice in the words alleged to have been spoken to Mr Mongan.


The Judge told the jury of seven men and five women that he was striking out the case because in a defamation action it was not simply enough that the words alleged to be defamatory were spoken. The words allegedly spoken must be made maliciously in order for them to be a slander the Judge added.


In his claim Mr Mongan said that he was out shopping for a Christmas present for his son William when he was approached by a security guard, Chris Kabile.


He claimed Mr Kabile asked him in a loud voice "Where is the duck. I know you have it. I want to see it. Take it out. I'd like to see where the duck is and what have you done with it." Mr Mongan denied having the duck, which had been placed in a shopping basket which his wife Deirdre had. She was in another location in the store at the time.


Mr Mongan said sought an apology from staff at the store but did not get one. He called the Gardai and eventually got a "really bad apology." from the security guard.


In his evidence, Mr Kabile, who has worked as a security guard for several years, said that he never accused Mr Mongan of stealing any item from the store. He said that on two occasions on the date in question, while he was patrolling the store he asked Mr Mongan to stop messing with toys.


After the second occasion Mr Mongan replied do you think I am going to rob it, and demanded to speak to the manager. He also told the court that Mr Mongan accused him of following him, which he said was not true.


After the Gardai were called he said he apologised to Mr Mongan in order to "end the situation."


The costs of the case were awarded against Mr Mongan today.

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