Man takes defamation action against toy store

Wednesday 06 February 2013 11.48
David Mongan takes case for defamation against Smyths toy store
David Mongan takes case for defamation against Smyths toy store

A 28-year-old Dublin man has begun a High Court case for defamation, claiming he was wrongly accused of shoplifting a toy duck in a Smyths toy store.

Volunteer boxing coach David Mongan from Ballyboden, Rathfarnham, claims he was deeply embarrassed and ashamed when a security guard approached him and asked, "where is the duck, I know you have it".

The father-of-one says he was accosted during the incident in Smyths on the Belgard Road, in Dublin in November 2007 and suffered from depression following the incident.

He said he and his wife were shopping in the store on 27 November with his wife's young brother.

They were in separate parts of the shop when he tried out the duck and gave it to his young brother-in-law to take to his wife and place in her shopping basket.

He said he was then approached by a security guard who spoke in a loud and intimidating voice asking where the duck was.

He claims other shoppers believed he was shoplifting.

He called for a manager and told them what had happened and his wife approached with the duck in her shopping basket. He later demanded an apology and called gardaí to the store.

Mr Mongan said he was given an apology but only after gardaí suggested to a security guard that he should apologise.

Mr Mongan said he "felt on fire with embarrassment," while he was waiting to see a manager and the gardaí.

He said the shop was "well packed" with Christmas shoppers and people could only see there was an incident with him, a security guard, a manager and gardaí, but no one knew he had been wrongly accused.

He did not initiate legal action until two years later because he had suffered from depression and was illiterate, he said.

Lawyers for Smyths said the store would deny the claims.

During cross examination it was put it to Mr Mongan that the security guard had twice asked him to put the duck back on the shelf after he was "messing and playing" with it.

Senior Counsel for Smyths Joseph McGettingan said the shop was not full at the time and there was no one within earshot.

He said Mr Mongan had asked the security guard if he was following him and if he thought he was going to steal the duck.

Mr Mongan denied this.

Mr McGettigan said no one ever accused him of stealing anything and put it to him that he had "brought it on himself".

Earlier there were humorous scenes in the High Court when lawyers were unable to turn off the talking duck, which was displayed to the jury. The case continues tomorrow.