Expectant mum Lisa Ralph wanted "the Rolls Royce of buggies" for her first baby and went for the ultimate status symbol in baby carriers, a court heard today.
But as Lisa and her sisters Karen and Fiona Ralph inspected the Bugaboo and the various extras that accompany the €1,300 push chair in Mamas & Papas (Retail) Ltd at Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, a commotion had broken out.
All three sisters told the Circuit Civil Court yesterday that a man, who was not an employee of the store and who was carrying a baby in his arms, had shouted at them like he was crazy and told them to "put the pram down and get out".
The man was Claude Cojanu, the husband of the assistant manager of the store, Cristina Cojanu, and had been waiting to see his wife.
Cojanu said he saw the group looking at the buggy and one of the sisters said: "What are you looking at you freak."
Another had said that if it was not for the baby in his arms she would punch him and he claimed he was also told: "You are f***ing crazy."
All three sisters denied his allegations in court. They said they were embarrassed and mortified when told in front of other customers to leave the shop. It suggested they had done something wrong. They had only been examining the Bugaboo.
Mr Cojanu told Judge Jacqueline Linnane that he said to the sisters, who live at Cannonbrook Court, Lucan, Co Dublin: "Please leave the shop." He had then walked outside but his wife, Cristina, had immediately called on his mobile and had asked him to come back in and apologise to them, which he did.
Ms Cojanu said she was doing the cash in the store when she was called out to the shop. There had been a commotion and she kept apologising to the three women.
She offered Lisa a €500 voucher against the price of a Bugaboo which had not been accepted.
Judge Linnane told barrister Garrett Cooney, who appeared with Howard Synnott solicitors for the Ralph sisters, that there had clearly been a commotion and an altercation between the women and Mr Cojanu.
"It is admitted the plaintiffs were asked to leave which would imply wrongdoing, and they were very upset," the judge said.
She told barrister Shane English, counsel for Mamas and Papas, of Coln Bridge Road, Huddersfield, England, that, taking into account there had been an immediate apology and a very substantial discount offered on the buggy, she would award the sisters €2,500 damages each for defamation with their legal costs.