Shop worker took photo of girl (8) using store loo

Ray Managh

AN eight-year-old girl was photographed while going to the loo in a Dublin store, the Circuit Civil Court has heard.

Judge Joseph Mathews, who recommended none of the parties be named to protect her identity, said pictures of her had been taken by a member of staff.

Barrister Ray Ryan told the court that in July 2007, the girl had been with her mother in the store and had gone to the toilet. While she was using the toilet an employee had held his mobile phone camera under the door of the cubicle and had taken pictures of her.

Mr Ryan said the employee concerned had been dealt with on a criminal charge and, while he appeared in court as the first defendant in the case, he was likely to be a "man of straw" with no funds to meet any order the court might make with regard to compensating the girl.

He said the girl, through her parents, had also sued the store involved which had offered an all-in figure of €7,500, to include costs, without any admission of liability.

Mr Ryan said he had doubts of succeeding on liability against the store if the case went to full trial. On the strength of existing legal authorities it was unlikely the store could be held responsible for the totally unforeseeable actions of an employee.

He said the girl's parents wanted to "move on" from the incident and asked that the claim against the employee be struck out with no further order.

Judge Mathews said that while the criminal division of the courts had dealt appropriately with the employee concerned it did not diminish the outrage both he and the child's parents felt at the serious assault and criminal act of trespass on the girl's privacy.

He said it was clear that the amount of compensation offered would not come anywhere near satisfying what the child, now aged 11, was entitled to if the defendant was a mark for damages. On the other hand a trial on liability against the store might well not succeed and the girl would be left with getting nothing.

Judge Mathews made an order for the payment into court of €3,750 to the girl's credit and directed that her parents be immediately paid out €500 for a gift for her from Santa.