Shoplifter dad with tattered reputation loses €75k lawsuit
A Dublin man with 13 theft- related convictions has lost a €75,000 defamation claim against a sports shop where he was caught removing a security tag from a football jersey, a court heard.
Derek Kenna claimed he had been doing his Christmas shopping in November 2014 at JD Sports on Henry Street when a staff member accused him of having a de-tagger device.
Kenna (40), of Ave Maria Road, Maryland, said he was with his son, who has Down syndrome, and was concerned the boy was alone in the shop while he was being "physically mishandled and falsely imprisoned" by security guards.
Conor Kearney, for JD Sports, said the defendant denied Kenna's allegations. He said the store was certain Kenna had been trying to remove a tag.
Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard Kenna had been arrested two months before the incident after he had de-tagged an item in another JD Sports shop.
He had pleaded guilty to stealing a Manchester United jersey and a Barcelona jersey and had received a community service sentence.
"You have 13 theft-related convictions and we can assume that there had been many more incidents but you just got away with them," Mr Kearney told Kenna in cross-examination.
"You are claiming that your reputation has been damaged, but I'm putting it to you that, as someone who was engaged in a series of thefts and de-tagging incidents, you do not have a reputation to damage."
Staff member Adam Crawford said he saw Kenna de- tagging a jersey. He said that when he approached him Kenna's left hand disappeared behind his back.
Mr Crawford had then asked him to show his hands and empty his pockets. He had not seen the de-tagging device and was unsure if he had "passed it on".
The court heard two security guards intervened and asked Kenna to open his shopping bags, in which he had one item from another sports shop and an empty JD Sports bag.
Mr Crawford said that, after Kenna had left, he found the security tag had been removed from a Manchester United away jersey. He also found the tag on another top had been loosened and was 100pc certain he had seen Kenna with a de-tagger.
The judge said Kenna was a man whose reputation was in tatters given his previous record for shoplifting and made an order for costs against him.