Woman wins damages of €5k after claiming defamation in filling station

Silifat Gbolahan. Pic: Collins Courts

A woman who claimed she had been accused of stealing money dropped by another customer in a Co Dublin filling station, claimed damages for defamation and negligence totalling €88,000, the Circuit Civil Court heard.

Silifat Gbolahan sued Topaz Energy Limited, which runs the Swords Petrol Filling Station and Shop, alleging that an accusation had been levelled at her when she dropped two €20 notes at the checkout till in the store.

Ms Gbolahan, of Lioscian, Swords, told Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke that when she went to pay for petrol a member of staff shouted: “Don’t take her money. It’s not hers. It belongs to the man who has just left.”

She told her barrister Joseph O’Connor that she had gone to an ATM in the store and had taken out money to pay for a purchase of petrol. At the counter she dropped her money and bent down to lift it, offering it to the sales assistant.

Ms Gbolahan said that when she presented the money for payment a member of staff shouted the defamatory words to a colleague at the till.

The member of staff involved told Mr O’Connor, who appeared with Sean Costello Solicitors for Ms Gbolahan, that there had been “a conflict” in the shop over whose money it was after Ms Gbolahan had lifted it off the floor.

She had genuinely thought it was the man’s money.

Ms Gbolahan told barrister Andrew Walker, counsel for Topaz Energy, that she had walked outside and phoned her husband who was in Nigeria.

Her husband had spoken to the shop manager on Ms Gbolahan’s phone and told her his wife would be going to see her solicitor.

Mr Groarke said the issue in the case was whether or not the words allegedly spoken about Ms Gbolahan were in fact spoken in public.

He said he accepted Ms Gbolahan’s account that the words “Don’t take her money. It’s not hers. It belongs to the man who has just left” had been spoken in a loud voice.

He awarded Ms Gbolahan €5,000 damages.


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