Student awarded €30k for false theft accusation at club
The accusation by a nightclub manager that a young student stole a handbag had such a devastating effect on her life that she lost interest in socialising, a judge said.
Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, who awarded Chloe O'Toole €30,000 damages for defamation against the nightclub owner, said it had been a dangerous allegation to make and there had been no attempt to justify it.
Ms O'Toole, of Ballymun Road, Glasnevin, Dublin, who is now studying to become a special effects make-up artist, told the court that when she attended Play Nightclub in D'Olier Street, Dublin, with friends in May 2016 a bouncer approached her and said: "The manager wants you to leave right now."
She said this had been followed by the remark: "You were in here last week robbing handbags."
Barrister Jack Tchrakian, who appeared for Ms O'Toole, told the Circuit Civil Court that his client had only recently been able to return to a normal life.
Ms O'Toole said in evidence she had lost all her friends because of the groundless remarks made about her in the nightclub.
On the night that she had to leave the club she had been told they had her on camera.
"I asked the head bouncer to show me any CCTV recording they might have to substantiate the allegations they were making against me but this was refused," she said.
"There were a lot of people, including my friends, staring at me, judging me."
She said the bouncer had told her in front of her friends that she was a robber and that she had to leave and was no longer welcome in the nightclub.
She had felt humiliated, embarrassed, uncomfortable and distressed and thought her friends might believe what she was being accused of on the night.
Mr Tchrakian said no-one had turned up in court to meet Ms O'Toole's claim.
The nightclub company was currently in liquidation and the court simply had to assess damages.
Judge Groarke said Ms O'Toole had suffered extraordinarily in the circumstances and awarded her €30,000 damages for defamation of character together with her legal costs.