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'Nuisance' given €25,000 payout for burger bar scuffle

HE was a dubbed a "dreadful nuisance" by a judge but a man walked away with €25,000 yesterday after a court ruled he had been unlawfully detained by security staff at a Supermac's restaurant.

Niall Condon was also awarded his costs after suing Supermac's Ireland Ltd for general damages arising from the incident at the company's Eyre Square outlet in Galway after midnight on December 22, 2000.

Supermac's founder and CEO, Pat McDonagh, said afterwards that, while he had to accept the High Court decision, he found it "amazing".

Mr Condon (30), an unemployed former construction and carwash worker from Corrandulla Co Galway, claimed that his wrist was broken and that he had suffered shoulder and head injuries during an incident after he was 'thrown out' of the Supermac's premises at Eyre Square.

In evidence heard last week, he said he had gone to the restaurant after drinking four or five pints at a city centre pub with fellow construction workers. He arrived at Supermac's after midnight but got into an argument with two other men, who, he said, had jumped the queue.

He was removed by bouncers with his arm behind his back and put outside the door. "I was told to f*** off and go home," he said.

He made a number of attempts to get back into the premises as he wanted an explanation as to why he had been ejected.

The bouncers then made a "dive" for him and put him face down on the floor, before lifting him and taking him to a staff room at the rear of the restaurant.

He was pinned to the floor there until a garda arrived. "My wrist was broken and the pain was unbearable -- I begged the garda to arrest me, just for my safety," he said.

When a garda arrived shortly afterwards, he took him outside and put him in a taxi to take him to hospital.

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Under cross-examination, Mr Condon admitted he had made a statement to gardai that he had drunk seven or eight pints of beer on the night.

He also agreed that his wrist had not been broken and that he had told the garda that he would "do" one of the security men if he could get a bottle.

Statement

The court was told that Mr Condon had subsequently insisted on making his statement to gardai and, as a result, he himself had been prosecuted and convicted at Galway District Court. He was fined €200 with €492 expenses for breaching the Public Order Act.

Security supervisor Declan Glynn, in his evidence, denied mistreating or assaulting Mr Condon.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy noted that Mr Condon had been "a dreadful nuisance" and should have gone home.

Delivering judgment in the case yesterday, Ms Justice Laffoy said that it was fact that Mr Condon was intoxicated, but while Mr Glynn was justified in asking him to leave, she felt that there had been a lot of ex post facto rationalisation in Mr Glynn's evidence.

Mr Condon had loitered outside and wanted to best the security personnel.

"He was undoubtedly a nuisance, even a pest," said the judge.

But he had been pulled in by the security men and lifted forcibly off his feet. The manner in which he had been restrained was unnecessary and the actions of the security personnel were "wholly disproportionate".

Ms Justice Laffoy also noted that a garda had not been called until after he was apprehended and Mr Condon had not committed an arrestable offence, nor was there any question of him avoiding arrest.

Ruling that he had been falsely imprisoned from the moment he had been pulled in from the door of the restaurant until the garda arrived, she awarded him general damages of €25,000 and special damages of €438.


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