Teen pictured in 'shoplifter' sign gets €50k
A full-length picture of an 18-year-old man with the words "attention shoplifters" hung on the front door of a Dublin store for months, a court has been told.
Karl Morrison, now of Aylesbury, Tallaght, was yesterday awarded €50,000 damages by Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke for defamation of character against Maxela Limited, Finglas.
Barrister Robert Beatty, counsel for Morrison, said the company had been the operator of a retail outlet called Rasputin in Tallaght Village, which now traded as Polo Stores.
He told the Circuit Civil Court that Max Bulgakov, director of Rasputin, had initially blamed an upstairs tenant for having put up the picture and wording.
Mr Beatty said that as a result of it remaining in place Mr Morrison had to move from his old address at Kilmartin Park, Fettercairn, Tallaght, and had to leave a bus when passengers made an adverse reference to him and the notice.
Judge Groarke, awarding Morrison the maximum €50,000 compensation, said the defamation was outrageous against a man who had "not a stain" to his character.
He said Mr Morrison, now aged 22, had been doing his best to advance his education and seemed an entirely honest young man. Publication of the picture and words had been hugely detrimental to him.
Morrison told the court that in June 2011 two of his uncles had drawn his attention to the offending notice and initially he thought they were joking.
He had gone immediately to the shop and recognised himself in the picture. He had demanded from two people that it be taken down but when they refused to do so, he went to his solicitor Colm O'Cochlain.
Mr Morrison said that even though O'Cochlain had written to the defendant asking for it to be taken down it had stayed up. He had to move from the area because of adverse comments.
Max Bulgakov, director of the defendant company, said he had not responded to the solicitor's letter because, he claimed, the notice was not his even though it had been attached to what was the front door of both his premises and his sub tenant Fashion Gallery upstairs.
Judge Groarke said whether the picture had been posted by Fashion Gallery or the defendant was irrelevant as Fashion Gallery was a sub-tenant. He made the award against Mr Bulgakov's company, Maxela Ltd, Unit 5 Century Business Park, Finglas.