Two young girls who were terrified after overhearing a mock armed robbery during a staff training exercise at fashion store H&M have been awarded €18,000 compensation at the Circuit Civil Court.

Abbie Kennedy, 11, and her six-year-old sister Casie were in the changing rooms of the Dundrum branch of the store with their mother Claudia McGrane when they heard mock raiders shouting orders to everyone to "get on the floor" and "open the ******g tills".

The court heard the incident in March 2013 continued for several minutes while the girls were in the changing room and they had been terrified and in fear of their lives.

H&M head office had later apologised and offered them a €30 voucher.

The scene had continued for several minutes while the family was still in the changing room, and Abbie and Casie had been terrified and in fear for their and their mother's lives, the court heard.

Ms McGrane, of Foxborough Road, Lucan, Co Dublin, had waited until there was silence to open the changing room door and look out, but she saw nothing. The family had remained in the changing room for several more minutes.

Judge Rory MacCabe was told the family went out of the changing room when they heard people talking in the store.

A store manager had later told Ms McGrane that an individual had been training staff in the event that there was a robbery, and what they had heard had been a robbery simulation. 

Later that day Ms McGrane had called H&M head office in England. The court heard that a representative for the company had apologised for the incident and had offered Ms McGrane a €30 voucher, which she had refused.

Through their mother, Abbie and Casie sued H&M Hennes & Mauritz (Ireland) Ltd for personal injuries.

They claimed the company had failed to ensure there were no customers in the changing area during the training course.

Judge MacCabe today heard that Abbie and Casie had been frightened and upset by the experience and had nightmares since the incident. 

The court was told that H&M had made settlement offers of €10,000 for Abbie and €8,000 for Casie, which the judge approved.