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Shoppers get €20,000 for false theft

A 54-year-old housewife and her 24-year-old niece have been awarded €20,000 in damages each against a security company for defamation of character and false imprisonment.

Barrister Roughan Banim told a judge yesterday that Ms Mary Maughan (54) and Ms Leonara Myers (24) had been detained in a Dunnes Stores branch after paying for their shopping.

He said Ms Maughan, of Own Door Haven, Ballyboden, Rathfarnham, Dublin, and Ms Myers, of Belgard Park, Cookstown Road, Tallaght, Dublin, had their bags searched.

He said they had been stopped in Nutgrove Shopping Centre, Rathfarnham, on September 1, 2007 by members of G4S Security Systems and brought back into Dunnes. They had been kept in a room in the store until gardai arrived. Ms Maughan and Ms Myers told the court they had selected and paid for nightwear and slippers for Ms Maughan and had left the store shortly after 6pm.

They had been stopped by a security man who said: "Come back here, you have not paid for some of the items in your bag."

Pointing out his mistake, they had been told it was Dunnes' policy to search customers' bags in such circumstances.

He ordered them to return to the store and they were kept first of all in a cold hallway and then in a room.

When gardai arrived, their bags were searched and payment receipts found for every item in them.

Both women told the court they had been stopped in full view of other shoppers and brought back into the store. They said they were stressed and embarrassed by what happened.

Irish Independent