Judge dismisses claims woman was ‘out of control’ as she is awarded €16k over false imprisonment by Irish Rail staff
Thursday 1st February 2018
A 26-year-old marketing executive has been awarded €16,000 for being falsely imprisoned by Irish Rail staff after she demanded the name of one employee and took his photograph on the night of the Trinity Ball in 2013.
Sarah Doupe, of Maryville, Skerries Road, Lusk, Co Dublin, was among a crowd of black-tie revellers who stepped off a packed Dart train at Pearse Station on April 5, 2013, into the middle of a dispute over tickets.
The Circuit Civil Court heard that although she was not going to the ball and had a valid train ticket, she became involved in an altercation with Irish Rail worker Darren Williams who had fined a man who did not have a ticket. This man had then shouted at Mr Williams: “F*** you, you bald f*****t. Get a real job.”
When she was refused Mr Williams’ name, she had reached for his identity badge on a lanyard around his neck and, she claimed, been pushed backwards by him. She took his photograph on her phone and refused to delete it. As she attempted to leave, a number of staff and security men were instructed to detain her. Ms Doupe denied she had called Mr Williams “a fat Nazi bastard” or threatened to bite him.
Judge Francis Comerford told her barrister Fergal Fitzgerald Doyle he accepted she had been detained because she had refused to delete the photograph and had been held until the arrival of gardaí a few minutes later.
He dismissed her claim of assault. But he said the company had used “unattractive comments” posted on Twitter by Ms Doupe to establish she was a violent and crude person who had abused members of staff on the night.
The judge, in a significant reserved judgment, said rail employees dealing with late-night crowds were subject to abuse ranging from offensive comment to very grave assault.
Mr Williams was complying with policy in issuing the man with a fine.
Ms Doupe was in no way intoxicated, abusive or out of control as alleged by Irish Rail and had she been given Mr Williams’ name she most likely would have left but instead took the photograph.
The judge said it was a real concern photographs would be bandied about on social media with hurtful and insulting comments and Mr Williams thought wrongly that once the guards arrived the picture would be deleted.
He was satisfied Ms Doupe had been detained because she had taken the photograph and Mr Williams had not been adequately identified.
He awarded Ms Doupe €16,000 damages for false imprisonment and costs against Irish Rail.
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