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Assault victim 'thrown to the wolves' by Centra security gets €750,000


Cian McCarthy suffered a serious brain injury in the assault. Photo: Collins Courts

Cian McCarthy suffered a serious brain injury in the assault. Photo: Collins Courts

Cian McCarthy suffered a serious brain injury in the assault. Photo: Collins Courts

A man who tried to get back into a shop as he fled would-be attackers - and was later assaulted - has been awarded more than €750,000 by a High Court judge.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross said Cian McCarthy was an innocent party and had suffered a "most significant and serious brain injury" in the assault outside the Centra supermarket on Grand Parade, Cork, seven years ago.

Psychiatric nurse Mr McCarthy had earlier been escorted from the Centra store after a disagreement at the deli counter when somebody jumped the queue.


Mr McCarthy (32), of Dwyer Road, Midleton, Co Cork, had sued Herlihy Supermarket Group, the owner of the Centra supermarket on Grand Parade, and Tekken Security, which provided security at the shop, for removing him on October 31, 2011 and preventing him from re-entering.

Mr Justice Cross found the defendants' duty of care did not stop at the door of the premises.

While they were entitled to eject Mr McCarthy - though he was entirely innocent - in order to avoid confrontation, a security guard should have noticed the three people involved in the row following him and advised a second security guard of the situation.

An eviction "cannot involve the person in effect being thrown to the wolves", Mr Justice Cross said.

He further ruled that in failing to re-admit Mr McCarthy and in pushing him back towards the danger, the defendants knew or ought to have known as a matter of virtual certainty that Mr McCarthy would suffer some assault and some harm.

The judge said Mr McCarthy had attended the supermarket with his fiancee at around 2am on Halloween night 2011.

He said CCTV cameras showed a very large number of people milling around in front of the supermarket and there was "clearly a fancy dress engagement going on nearby as people are to be seen in drag and other fancy dress outfits".

There was a large number of patrons in Centra, along with staff and two security guards.

Mr McCarthy joined the queue at the deli counter.

A man with a cardboard box on his head attempted to jump the queue and Mr McCarthy and his fiancee objected.

The man with the box on his head is seen in footage manhandling his way up to the front, which the judge said caused some protest from Mr McCarthy.

Mr McCarthy is seen calling out that people should mind their manners and he was then assaulted around his mouth.

The judge said the security guard wanted to separate Mr McCarthy, who was in a row with three people at this stage, and he escorted Mr McCarthy from the shop.

Mr Justice Cross said the first security guard handed the care of Mr McCarthy over to the second security guard but omitted to tell him Mr McCarthy was the innocent party.

The three people involved in the row followed Mr McCarthy from the shop, chased him and attempted to hit him on the head.

The judge said Mr McCarthy offered no resistance and backed away, trying to cover his head.


Mr McCarthy managed to break loose from his pursuers and made for the front door of the shop, seeking safety.

The judge said the second security guard, who did not know Mr McCarthy was the innocent party and did not witness him being beaten and pursued outside, barred Mr McCarthy's re-entry to the shop.

Mr Justice Cross concluded that the security guard pushed Mr McCarthy back towards the crowd, where a young woman was knocked to the ground.

"Unfortunately, the young woman's boyfriend intervened with a massive fist to Mr McCarthy's head, causing him to fall to the ground, crack his head and suffer a serious head and brain injury," Mr Justice Cross said.

That man was later sentenced at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to five years in prison, with the last two years suspended, for the assault on Mr McCarthy.

Mr Justice Cross granted a stay in the event of an appeal.