Pub appeals €5,000 award over ‘fake tenner’ claim

Customer Leonard Nolan says he was ‘devastated’ when told €10 note was a fake

Leonard Nolan (53), a fast food delivery man, of Pearse Gardens, Sallynoggin, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins

Leonard Nolan (53), a fast food delivery man, of Pearse Gardens, Sallynoggin, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins

 

A pub has appealed a €5,000 award to a man who said he was defamed when he was told by a barman that a €10 note he used to pay for a pint of lager was fake.

Leonard Nolan (53) had sued Laurence Lounge Ltd, trading as Grace’s Pub of Rathmines, Dublin, for alleged defamation in the pub on April 24th, 2013. He was awarded €5,000, plus costs , in the Circuit Court in 2016.

The pub appealed to the High Court, which on Friday adjourned the matter to next week for legal submissions.

Mr Nolan, a fast food delivery man, of Pearse Gardens, Sallynoggin, Co Dublin, told the court he went into the pub on his way home at around 8.30pm, ordered a pint of lager and put a €10 note on the counter.

“Rather than fulfil my order, the barman decided to pick up the note and holding it aloft, [and] said you can clearly see that is a fake,” he said.

Asked by his counsel Jeremy Maher how he felt, he said: “First I was nervous, then I was devastated. Words could not describe what I felt at being called a cheat.”

He said he told the barman he got the tenner from the the post office, that was “a reliable source” and the note “is good”.

Mr Nolan said there were around 10 other people in this pub, with two men sitting very close at the counter. The barman was speaking in a loud voice.

He said he went to Rathmines Garda station, just across the road from the pub, where a garda took the note from him and went away. About four minutes later the garda returned, and said:“That note is perfect, you can spend it anywhere you like.”

He returned to the bar, and told the barman what the garda had said. He asked the barman to sign the note but he refused and told him to leave. Next day he went to his solicitor.

Customer

Cross-examined by Barry M Ward, for Grace’s, Mr Nolan said as a food delivery man when taking cash from a customer he would have to be “110 per cent sure” a note was fake before he would question someone over it. If he did he would do it in a discreet way, and not the way the barman had.

The barman, Desmond Bond, who has worked in Grace’s for 13 years, told the court he said to Mr Nolan it was a “fake note, where did you get that”.

He said Mr Nolan said he got it in “a bookies or a shop”, and Mr Bond told him to take it back there.

He said he knew it was not a genuine note because it did not have a silver strip in it. He also disputed that the note produced in court was the one Mr Nolan presented on the night.

Mr Bond said he made a little tear in the top of the note he was handed when he was checking it, and the note in court did not have that tear. He also believed he dealt with the matter as discreetly as possible.

He disagreed, under cross-examination, that, for whatever reason, he took an instant dislike to Mr Nolan, and decided he was going to accuse him of tendering a fake note.

Machine

Gardaí Aaron Lawlor and Andrew O’Sullivan told the court they were on duty in Rathmines station that night and nobody came in about a counterfeit note. They also denied there was a machine in Rathmines station for testing counterfeit notes, as claimed by Mr Nolan’s side.

Mr Justice Michael McGrath said he wanted to hear legal submissions from both sides, and he adjourned the case to next week. One of the defences was that this was an occasion of qualified privilege whereby a statement to someone with an interest in receiving such information was protected as long as it was not motivated by malice.