Wednesday 21 August 2019

Woman awarded €10,000 damages after she claims takeaway 'blamed' her for 'deliberately' putting insects into her food

Denise Melia, of Lanesborough Court, Finglas, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts after a Circuit Civil Court action.Pic: Collins Courts
Denise Melia, of Lanesborough Court, Finglas, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts after a Circuit Civil Court action.Pic: Collins Courts

Ray Managh

A 30-year-old Dublin woman, who claimed she had been blamed for deliberately putting insects in takeaway meals she bought at Macari’s Takeaway, Meakstown Shopping Centre, Finglas, Dublin, has been awarded €10,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court for defamation of character.

Denise Melia, of Lanesborough Court, Finglas, Dublin, told Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke that when she and her then partner, Keith May, returned to Macari’s Takeaway with the food and insects she had been told: “You put that in there yourself.”

Ms Melia said she had found the remains of a dead Daddy Long Legs in one box of food and part of the leg of a Daddy Long Legs in a second box.  Both boxes,bought in the shop on the same night of 29th September 2016, contained chips and other items of food.

She alleged in a €75,000 claim for defamation of character that she had become nauseous after starting to eat the foot and finding the insect and insect pieces in the food.  She and her partner had immediately returned to Macari’s Takeaway where she had been told: “You put that in there yourself.”

Both Ms Melia and her former partner Mr May denied that Mr May had become aggressive in the Takeaway or that May had thrown one box of the food over Constantine Ionas who had served them earlier.

Counsel for the defendants Benny and Antonia Macari, who trade as Macari’s Takeaway, told Ms Melia that it would be the evidence of two staff of the shop that May had become aggressive, had been loud and had used bad language.

Constantine Ionas, who had dealt with the couple on the night, denied Ms Melia had been accused of having put the Daddy Long Legs or part of a leg of a Daddy Long Legs into the boxes.  He said May had become aggressive and thrown the food in one box over him.

In cross-examination by barrister Pat Purcell, counsel for Ms Melia, Mr Ionas denied that he had smirked and laughed at the couple when they had returned with the food boxes to the store.

Judge Groarke said he had seen Mr Ionas smirking in court while Ms Melia was giving her evidence in the witness box.  “I saw it,” he said.

Awarding Melia €10,000 damages, Judge Groarke said Ms Melia’s complaints were that when she returned with the boxes she had been told “You have put them in there yourself,” the implication being that she was fraudulently seeking to set up a claim against the shop.

The judge said he had found Ms Melia to be an impressive and compellingly honest witness. Her partner had become extremely annoyed and angry because Mr Ionas had been sniggering and laughing at him in the shop.

“I saw that in court today while the plaintiff and her former partner were in the witness box,” Judge Groarke said. “I believe the plaintiff’s account of opening the two boxes and finding the insects there.”

The judge said it was something that could happen and did not necessarily require bad management or negligence on the part of the food outlet.  It was part and parcel of what could happen.”

Judge Groarke said he accepted Ms Melia’s evidence that a clearly defamatory observation had been made by Mr Ionas when there were other customers in the shop.

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