Judge rejects ‘false teeth’ claim in €75,000 defamation case

Grandmother says she was concealing her dentures, not hair clips, in baby’s pram

Pauline Irwin pictured leaving the Four Courts in Dublin. Photograph: Collins Courts

Pauline Irwin pictured leaving the Four Courts in Dublin. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A grandmother has told a judge she was photographed in a shop hiding her false teeth in her grandson’s buggy and rather than concealing stolen goods.

Pauline Irwin, of Hunter’s Green, Hunter’s Way, Ballycullen, Co Dublin, lost a €75,000 defamation action against Claires Accessories UK Limited, of The Square, Tallaght, and was ordered to pay the store’s costs.

Ms Irwin told barrister James Burke, counsel for the shop, she suffered from painful gums and regularly took out her false teeth to put antiseptic cream on them and relieve her pain.

She said she was putting her teeth under the baby’s blanket when pictured on CCTV in the store on April 4th, 2015.

“I have to do it about three times a day,” she said.

Ms Irwin claimed she had been wrongfully accused of taking a €7 packet of hair clips from Claires Accessories. She said pictures shown to the judge of her putting something under the baby’s blanket were misleading as it was her teeth she had in her hand.

She took out her denture plate to show it to the judge to compare it to the size of the packet of clips it was alleged she had taken.

Ms Irwin said she had left the store to put antiseptic cream on her gums and had been stopped near the multi-storey car park by the store manager and a security man.

“The manager shouted and screamed at me and searched my buggy and bags,” she said. “I showed my sore gums to the security man and I was frogmarched back to the shop to view the CCTV.”

When told by Mr Burke that this was the first time false teeth were ever mentioned, she said the shop manager had not given her a chance to explain about her teeth.

Store manager Claire Benson said she had seen Ms Irwin put the hair clips under the blanket and had taken pictures with her phone from the CCTV monitor to confirm what she had seen was correct.

“I saw her conceal the packet of clips under the blanket. I am 100 per cent certain it wasn’t her teeth,” Ms Benson said. She said Ms Irwin had her teeth in her mouth at the time.

She denied shouting or screaming at Ms Irwin who, she said, had searched her own bags and the buggy. When the clips had been found Ms Irwin had said they belonged to her daughter for whom she had been looking after the baby.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane said Ms Benson had been very clear in her evidence of having seen Ms Irwin, by means of angled ceiling mirrors and CCTV, take the clips and conceal them.

The court accepted there was no shouting or screaming or frogmarching of Ms Irwin and the pictures which, the judge said, clearly showed her putting something under a blanket, aroused suspicions.

Dismissing Ms Irwin’s claim “without hesitation,” the judge said she accepted fully “the far more credible” evidence of the defendants.

“Interestingly Mrs Irwin in the shop didn’t have the story she presented to the court that she took out her false teeth because her gums were sore,” said the judge.