A 55-year-old unemployed woman, who claimed she was defamed and falsely imprisoned for five hours after having been accused of stealing meat in an Aldi store, has lost a €75,000 damages claim in the Circuit Civil Court.
Judge James O’Donohoe said Lithuanian woman Ruta Bendikiene had not been able to establish in her evidence that the alleged defamatory words she had pleaded in her Civil Bill had been spoken to her by security guard Michael Dunne on July 2014 outside Aldi, Navan, Co Meath.
Judge O’Donohoe said Mr Dunne’s evidence was very credible.
The security guard said he had witnessed Ms Bendikiene placing two items of meat in her handbag and had not paid for them, although she had paid for other items.
Mr Dunne said he had stopped her outside the store and asked her to go to a staff room where she had waited about 40 minutes for the gardaí to arrive.
The judge said the evidence of Garda Gareth McArdle, who told the court that he decided to arrest Ms Bendikiene, of Brews Hill, Navan, after she had refused to co-operate, was crucial in the case.
Garda McArdle said Ms Bendikiene had an interpreter with her at Navan Garda Station when she decided to sign an adult caution, an alternative to prosecution. He said signing the document was an acknowledgement of guilt.
Ms Bendikiene had claimed she had paid for the goods and was accused by Mr Dunne to have stolen them.
She alleged she had signed the caution to avoid prosecution and be released from the Garda station the same day instead of having to apply for bail the following week.
She claimed she was detained by the store for five hours. She said staff had refused to show her CCTV footage of the alleged incident and had not retained a till receipt of her transaction. The court heard that neither was available to show yesterday.
Judge O’Donohoe said he was satisfied Ms Bendikiene had not paid for the goods as she would not have signed the caution otherwise.
The judge dismissed Ms Bendikiene’s claim and awarded legal costs against her. He told counsel Niamh O’Donovan, for Aldi, that CCTV footage of these type of incidents should be retained by retailers.
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