Dublin woman awarded €5,000 of a €75,000 claim
Suzanne Thorpe sued Harvey Norman for assault and defamation of character
Suzanne Thorpe, of Corduff Park, Blanchardstown, Dublin leaving the Four Courts on Friday after her Circuit Civil Court action for damages. Photograph: Collins Courts
A Dublin woman who sued the Harvey Norman outlet, Blanchardstown, for €75,000 damages for assault and defamation of character has been awarded a tenth of her claim.
Judge James O’Donohoe in the Circuit Civil Court awarded her €7,500 damages but reduced it to €5,000 on the basis she had contributed to the situation she had found herself in.
Suzanne Thorpe, of Corduff Park, Blanchardstown, Dublin, had claimed she was browsing at the iPhones and laptop counter when the lights suddenly went out in a general power failure.
She claimed she had been physically restrained by store manager Neill Callan as staff, in torchlight, ushered customers from the store and that he had told her: “Sorry, can you step back, I want to search your trolley.”
When cross-examined by Fiona Crawford, counsel for Harvey Norman, Ms Thorpe denied calling Mr Callan “a four-eyed c**t” and shouting at him: “Are you fucking accusing me of stealing” when they were outside the store.
Mr Callan denied he had assaulted Ms Thorpe by placing his hand on her shoulder after the lights had gone out and telling her he wanted to search her shopping trolley.
Mr Callan said that although the phones and laptops were attached to security wires they could be removed without setting off an alarm due to the 15-minute power cut. The CCTV had also gone down.
He told counsel for Ms Thorpe, who was represented by Seamus Maguire Solicitors, that he could not remember all of the expletives Ms Thorpe had shouted at him outside the shop but he could definitely recall her calling him a “four-eyed c**t”.
Ms Thorpe said she became panicky in the dark and had headed for the doors. She had kept on going and Mr Callan, after touching her shoulder, had followed her outside, all the while looking into her trolley. Outside he had put his arm into the trolley to inspect her purchases but she had stopped him and offered to await the arrival of the Garda. They were never called.
Mr Callan told the court he had seen Ms Thorpe “twiddling” at the wires on the back of a laptop which she could have removed from the store because the alarm would not have activated.
“I never went near her in the store. When she walked out I said ‘excuse me’ and she turned around and said, ‘Are you fucking accusing me of stealing?’,” he said. He had said he was not and denied putting his hands in the shopping trolley.
Judge O’Donohoe, in his reserved judgment on Friday, said Mr Callan had conceded that in different circumstances he would probably have called general security in the outlet park.