Dublin man loses defamation claim after removing tag from jersey

Circuit Court president says Derek Kenna was a man whose reputation was in tatters

A  man has lost a  defamation  claim  against a sports shop where, a court heard, he was caught removing a security tag from a Manchester United  jersey. File photograph: Getty Images

A man has lost a defamation claim against a sports shop where, a court heard, he was caught removing a security tag from a Manchester United jersey. File photograph: Getty Images

 

A Dublin man with 13 previous theft-related convictions has lost a €75,000 damages claim for defamation against a sports shop where, a court heard, he was caught removing a security tag from a Manchester United away jersey.

Derek Kenna claimed he had been doing his Christmas shopping in November 2014 at JD Sports, Henry Street, Dublin, when he was stopped by a staff member who accused him of having a device for removing security tags.

Kenna (40), of Ave Maria Road, Maryland, Dublin, said he had been with his son, who has Down Syndrome, and had been concerned that the boy was alone in the busy shop while he was being “physically mishandled and falsely imprisoned” by security guards.

Conor Kearney, counsel for shop owner John David Sports Fashion (Ireland) Ltd, told the court the defendant denied Kenna’s allegations. He said the store was certain Kenna had been trying to remove a tag from the sports jersey.

Community service

Circuit Court president Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard Kenna had been arrested two months before the November incident after he had de-tagged an item in another JD Sports shop. He had pleaded guilty to shoplifting a Manchester United 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 during cross-examination.

“You are claiming in these proceedings that your reputation has been damaged, but I’m putting 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 told Mr Kearney, who appeared with Shaffrey Solicitors for JD Sports, that he saw Kenna leaning in and de-tagging a jersey. He said that, when he approached him, Kenna’s left hand, allegedly holding the de-tagger, disappeared behind his back.

Mr Crawford asked him to show his hands and then empty his pockets. He had not seen the device in Kenna’s pockets and was unsure if he had “passed it on”.

Guards intervened

The court heard that 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 JD Sports he found the security tag had been removed from the Manchester United jersey. He had found the tag on another Man United “away” jersey had been loosened and was 100 per cent certain he had seen Kenna with a de-tagger.

Circuit Court president Mr Justice Raymond Groarke said Kenna was a man whose reputation was in tatters given his previous record for shoplifting.

“I don’t have to tell him that, he knows that himself,” Judge Groarke said.

He said Mr Crawford appeared to him to be a careful and compelling witness whose attention had been drawn “to this experienced shoplifter” because of what he was doing in the shop.

Judge Groarke made an order for costs against Kenna.