€7,500 award for woman accused of 'trying to do a runner' at petrol station
A 25-year-old Co Meath woman, who claimed she and her husband had been accused of planning to do a runner after filling up at a petrol station, has been awarded €7,500 damages in the Circuit Civil Court for defamation of character.
Lauren Cannon, who told the court she was now married to her then partner and fellow claimant Ian Kavanagh, said that in April 2013 they had called to the Texaco Petrol Station and Spar shop at Coolquay, The Ward, Co Dublin, for a fuel re-fill.
She told her barrister Matthew Jolley that after Ian had put petrol in their car a supervisor had blocked him from re-entering the driver's door and had said: "You were not going to pay, you pay for petrol now."
She had got out of the car to go into the shop to pay and the supervisor had followed her and stood beside her until she paid.
Mr Jolley told Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, it was always Ms Kavanagh's intention to leave the car and pay for the fuel once Ian had informed her of the amount.
Ms Cannon said that as she had stood in the queue to pay she had asked the supervisor what was the problem and he had said: "You were not going to pay."
Judge Groarke said there were two separate incidents - one on the forecourt, when they were being watched by the supervisor, and one in the shop.
The judge said the supervisor had told the court he had spoken to Mr Kavanagh because the car engine was still running which was creating a danger and when Mr Kavanagh had approached the driver's door the supervisor had been perfectly entitled to give voice to his suspicion.
"Mr Kavanagh's wife was going to pay the bill and when she got out of the car she waves the money," Judge Groarke said. "Why would she do that other than that an allegation had been made that they were going to drive away without paying."
The judge said he was entirely satisfied this was a legitimate purchase of petrol and at that stage the supervisor should have "backed off".
Judge Groarke dismissed Mr Kavanagh's claim for defamation but awarded Ms Kavanagh €7,500 damages together with her legal costs.