Newspaper settles defamation case

The Sunday World has apologised, and agreed to pay undisclosed damages, to a Bank of Ireland employee under a settlement of his legal action alleging defamation in an article concerning a €7.6m tiger kidnapping heist in Dublin.

The damages to be paid to Shane Travers are understood to be substantial. 

The newspaper accepted he was a “wholly innocent victim” of the tiger kidnappers and was subjected to a “terrifying ordeal” when he and his then-girlfriend Stephanie Smith’s family were apprehended by a violent criminal gang.

In High Court proceedings, Mr Travers, aged 31, of Portmarnock, Co Dublin, sued Sunday Newspapers Ltd, publishers of the Sunday World, which denied it defamed him in the article of January 31, 2010. 

It was headlined “€7.6m heist ‘was nothing to do with me’” with a sub-heading: “But gardaí still convinced kidnap gang had inside info on bank stash”.

The article was published within hours of the release of Mr Travers’ without charge on January 30, 2010, after being questioned by gardaí for 48 hours about the heist at the Bank of Ireland cash centre, College Green, of February 26/27, 2009.

The article was accompanied by photos of Mr Travers standing beside a Ferrari and Bentley, which the court was told were taken when he and Ms Smith were on holiday in Spain prior to the heist. 

Mr Travers had been working at the bank’s cash centre for two years before the heist. 

He remains a paid employee of Bank of Ireland but has been incapable of returning to work since the heist, he told the jury.

The case opened last week and evidence on behalf of Mr Travers concluded on Friday.

Yesterday morning, Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh was told the newspaper was not calling evidence and, just after lunch, Paul O’Higgins, counsel for Mr Travers, said the case had settled.

In its apology read by counsel Eoin McCullough to the judge and jury, the newspaper said it published an article which “has been said to allege that Shane Travers had been part of a serious criminal gang that had been responsible for a €7.6m Tiger kidnapping raid on the Bank of Ireland in February 2009”.

The Sunday World “unreservedly accepts that Shane Travers did not participate in any way whatsoever in this serious crime” and “was a wholly innocent victim of the tiger kidnappers who was subject to a terrifying ordeal when he and his then girlfriend’s family were apprehended by a violent criminal gang”, it said.

The newspaper apologised to Mr Travers for the article and said it has agreed to pay damages for damage and distress caused to him and his family. 

Mr Travers was accompanied by his father, mother, and several family members.


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