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Sunday 18 August 2019

'An appalling waste of time' - judge throws out €75k defamation case

Gary Cosgrove said he was humiliated by the incident
Gary Cosgrove said he was humiliated by the incident

A Christmas shopper who claimed he was embarrassed during a run-in with a security guard has had his £75,000 claim for defamation thrown out of court.

Circuit Court judge Jacqueline Linnane told Gary Cosgrove his case was "an appalling waste of time" and dismissed it.

Mr Cosgrove (25), of Crumlin Road, Dublin 12, said he had been doing some last-minute Christmas shopping in Dundrum Town Centre on December 23, 2015.

He said he was with two male friends, and they had gone into JD Sports, where one of them had bought four items.

Mr Cosgrove told the Circuit Civil Court that after they left the store, a security guard came up behind them and snatched the bag from his friend's hand.

He said the guard had asked the three of them to accompany him back to the shop and he had done so because he felt intimidated.

The bag was checked at the front of the store by the guard and a security tag was still attached to an Armani jacket.

It was then removed by a member of staff and the three men left the store.

Judge Linnane said that although Mr Cosgrove had not bought anything, he was the only one who had decided to take an action.

She said he had claimed to be embarrassed, humiliated and intimidated by the incident, whereas one of his friends had found the whole episode funny.

Although Mr Cosgrove had told the court the three should have been taken into a back room to have the bag searched, she believes this would have made the whole incident all the more noticeable.

Beeping

The judge said that from the three men's descriptions, it had been clear the entire shopping centre had been extremely busy with people bumping into each other, yet everyone had been able to stare at the bag being checked.

Ms Justice Linnane said Mr Cosgrove and one friend had told her they had heard no beeping as they left the store, but the other friend said he thought he might have heard it.

There had also been conflict over the description of the security guard.

The judge told barrister Conor Kearney, appearing for JD Sports, that the security guard's evidence had been that the incident never happened.

Judge Linnane said to Tom Clarke, for Diverse Security Services, that even if the incident had happened, she saw no justification whatsoever for a claim.

Mr Cosgrove had not been defamed, and claims in the premises of him having been accused of stealing and being part of a criminal gang were not true, she said.

The judge dismissed the €75,000 claim against JD Sports Fashion, trading as JD Sports, and Diverse Security Services, before calling it "an appalling waste of time".

A spokesperson for AIG Insurance said after the case that it was delighted with the outcome.

It fully intended challenging all claims in court in which it felt there was a reasonable chance of success.

By fighting cases, the company aimed to reduce costs to customers and persuade claimants to think hard before "wasting court time" with potentially questionable claims.

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