Toy shop sued over duck theft claim

Dublin man David Mongan claims he was accused of trying to steal a toy duck at a Smyth's store in Tallaght.

Dublin man David Mongan claims he was accused of trying to steal a toy duck at a Smyth's store in Tallaght.

Tue, Feb 5, 2013, 00:00

A Dublin man who claims he was falsely accused of stealing a toy duck that he was considering buying for his child as a Christmas present has sued for defamation.

David Mongan claims a security guard at Smyths Toy Superstores, Belgard Road, Tallaght, asked him in a loud voice in front of other shoppers where the duck was.

Arising from that alleged incident on November 27th, 2007, Mr Mongan, Owendoher Haven, Ballyboden, Rathfarnham has sued Smyth’s Toys; Smyth’s Toy’s Holdings; Smyth’s Toys Properties Ltd; and a security company, Goldforce Ltd T/a Goldforce Security Management.

In his action before a jury and Mr Justice Eamon De Valera, Mr Mongan alleges, following the incident, he suffered from depression which became so bad he at one point considered taking his own life.

The defendants have denied defamation and claim the words complained were never used.

In evidence today, Mr Mongan, represented by John O’Donnell SC and Richard Lyons SC, said he went to the Smyth’s store with his wife Deirdre and brother-in-law William (then aged 11) to buy a few things for Christmas. He said he went down one aisle while his wife went to a different location.

An unemployed landscape gardener who coaches children in boxing, Mr Mongan said he was looking for a present for his then one-year-old son, also named William. He decided to get a walking and talking duck and told his brother-in-law to bring the duck to his wife so she could have a look at it, he said.

He said he was approached by a security guard, named in court as Chris Kabile, who asked him in a loud voice: “Where is the duck? I know you have it. I want to see it. Take it out. I’d like to see where the duck is and what have you done with it.”

Mr Mongan said he denied having the duck and asked to speak to the store manager. The security guard had acted in a loud, aggressive and intimidating manner, he said.

At the checkout, he was joined by his wife who had the toy duck in her basket, he said. Senior staff had not apologised to him and he was told by one person who had a managerial role the security guard was entitled to question him in the way he had.

Mr Mongan said he called gardaí, who arrived at the store. However, the only response he got from staff was a “really bad apology”.

Other people were present during the incident and he felt very, very embarrassed and “on fire”, he said. People who saw things develop believed he had been caught stealing, he said.  After the incident, he became depressed, and required medical treatment, he said. It took him just over a year to deal with his depressive illness. Two years after the incident, he spoke to a solicitor about it.

Cross-examined by Joe McGettigan, for the defendants, Mr Mongan denied the incident as described “never happened”.

He also denied counsel’s assertion the security guard had told him to “stop playing with the duck” and Mr Mongan replied “Do you think that I am going to rob it?” He also denied there were no other people in the store at the time. He accepted he bought the duck and had returned to the store since the incident occurred.

The hearing continues.