Saturday 20 January 2018

Tesco staff member loses €38k claim after witnessing ‘execution’ of two men in petrol station

Mary O'Brien Photo: CourtPix
Mary O'Brien Photo: CourtPix

Saurya Cherfi and Ray Managh

A 52-year-old Tesco sales assistant, who saw two young men being executed in front of her eyes in a “traumatic and horrific” incident three years ago, at one of the store’s Dublin petrol station, has lost a €38,000 damages claim for personal injury in the Circuit Civil Court.

The court heard that on the night of November 23, 2010, Mary O’Brien had been sitting at the window behind the till at Clearwater, Finglas, Co Dublin, petrol station when a man who had arrived by car asked her for a packet of twenty John Player Blue cigarettes.

Ms O’Brien said that as she replied she had none, she heard a loud bang and saw the customer fall to the ground. The man was shot repeatedly by a gunman who then walked over to the car and shot another man who was sitting in it. Both men had died at the scene.

The court heard an investigation on the double murder was still being carried out by the Gardai.

Ms O’ Brien today told Tesco counsel, Frank Martin, that she ran from the till to the kitchen area while calling for security numerous times on her walky talky.

Ms O’Brien, of Rathvilly Park, Finglas South, Dublin, said that as no security man arrived, she used her mobile phone to contact a friend working in the Tesco Clearwater supermarket on the other side of the car park. The Gardai had arrived a few minutes later. 

She had been “extremely shocked and shaken” and was driven home by a friend. She had attended her GP the following day who prescribed her sleeping and anti-anxiety tablets.

Judge Alan Mahon heard Tesco had arranged for Ms O’Brien to attend a counsellor. She had later developed depression and her social life had been affected. She had been prescribed anti-depressants.

The court heard Ms O’Brien was out of work for several months. She said she had not been trained on how to use panic alarm buttons. She sued Tesco for negligence and breach of duty.

The store denied liability and said a high security system was in place, including panic alarm buttons,CCTV recordings and a bullet-proof glass to protect the petrol station cashier. 

The court heard that at night the cashier sits alone in a locked premises and a security service patrols regularly. The store said a security guard had heard Ms O’Brien’s call through the walky talky and had called the Gardai. He had then attempted to reassure Ms O’Brien.

Judge Mahon said that although no security guard was constantly present in the direct vicinity of the petrol station, he was satisfied they had been close enough to come at the scene rapidly.

The judge said Ms O’Brien had witnessed an appalling event but there was nothing Tesco could have done to prevent the two men, who had been tracked by their killers, from being killed at the petrol station. He dismissed Ms O’Brien’s claim. Tesco did not apply for their legal costs.

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