Student awarded €30,000 after being falsely accused of 'robbing handbags'
A nightclub manager's accusation of handbag theft against a young student had such a devastating effect on her life that she lost interest in socialising, a judge said.
Circuit Court president Mr Justice Raymond Groarke awarded Chloe O'Toole €30,000 damages for defamation against the nightclub owner.
The judge said it was a dangerous allegation to make and there had been no attempt to justify it. Ms O'Toole, of Ballymun Road, Glasnevin, Dublin, who is studying to become a special effects make-up artist, told the court she went to Play nightclub in D'Olier Street, Dublin, in May 2016.
A bouncer approached her and said: "The manager wants you to leave right now."
She said this was followed by: "You were in here last week robbing handbags."
Ms O'Toole said in evidence that she had lost all her friends because of the groundless remarks made about her in the nightclub.
"I asked the head bouncer to show me any CCTV recording they might have to substantiate the allegations they were making against me but this was refused," she said. "There were a lot of people, including my friends, staring at me, judging me."
Solicitor Georgina Robinson, principal partner in Robinson O'Neill solicitors, said there had been no response from Play club owner Ctp Bars Limited, Main Street, Finglas, and her firm had obtained judgment against them in default of appearance.
Barrister Jack Tchrakian, who appeared with Robinson O'Neill solicitors for Ms O'Toole, said no-one had turned up in court to meet Ms O'Toole's claim. The company was in liquidation and the court simply had to assess damages.
Judge Groarke awarded Ms O'Toole €30,000 damages for defamation of character together with her legal costs.