A judge has told Dunnes Stores that they would be justified in barring an 18-year-old man from shopping in their store in future after he took an unsuccessful €75,000 defamation action against them.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane heard in the Circuit Civil Court that Adam Mulhall of Castlegrange Dale, Castaheany, Dublin 15, had been shopping in the Dunnes on Main Street, Ongar Village, Dublin 15, with three of his friends on 14th October, 2017, when the defamation allegedly occurred.
Mulhall claimed he had been defamed by both a security guard on duty and Ms Sunny Thomas, a manager in the store. He said he had been asked to leave the shop without any explanation and had been told by Ms Thomas that he would not be served there.
He said he and his friends had been accused by the security guard of having broken a sign belonging to the store outside when playing with a football. Mulhall, who sued through his mother Susan Brady, said he and his friends had not been responsible for breaking the sign and they had refused to leave the store when asked as they felt they had done no wrong.
Barrister Shane English, counsel for Dunnes Stores, told the court that Ms Thomas had felt intimated by the four young men and had threatened to call the Gardaí
Ms Thomas said that when the group had refused to leave she had called the Gardaí. They had told her they were busy and would not get to the store for some time so she had then pressed the panic button in the store for assistance.
Mr English, who appeared with Berrymans Lace Mawer Solicitors, told Mulhall that he had not been defamed by Dunnes Stores staff and that he himself had “acted like a thug.”
Counsel also questioned Caelan Hanley, one of Mullhall’s friends who had been present in the store, as to why he had put his foot in the door and prevented members of staff from trying to close up the shop at closing time.
Hanley, who is taking a separate €75,000 defamation action against Dunnes, said he did not want to leave the store as they had still been waiting for an explanation as to why they had not been served.
Mr English asked Hanley why he had used foul language towards Ms Thomas including: “Are you touching my arse?”
Hanley told Mr English he had asked Ms Thomas this as she had brushed up against him and he did not like when people did this. Mr English described Hanley’s allegation as preposterous.
Judge Linnane said CCTV footage she had been shown from the store did not do Mr Mulhall or his friends any good. She said she found Mulhall and Hanley’s evidence to not be at all credible.
She said that even after the Gardaí had arrived Mr Mulhall had refused to leave the scene and only did so after having been threatened with a public order charge.
Judge Linnane said that even if Mr Mulhall and his friends had not been responsible for breaking the sign outside the store, they had still behaved in an aggressive manner towards the security guard and Ms Thomas.
She said Hanley’s holding his foot in the door had been “appalling behaviour” and yet he intended to bring his own claim against the store saying he was the one who had been intimidated.
The Judge dismissed Mulhall’s case, saying she much preferred Ms Thomas’s evidence and added that Dunnes had a right to ask anyone to leave their store.
She said Dunnes would be justified in barring Mr Mulhall, Mr Hanley and another of their friends who gave evidence in court from their premises in Ongar.