Security firm’s ‘theft’ row fine

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A WIGAN security firm has been ordered to pay a £20,000 fine after one of its guards wrongly accused a mum of shoplifting.

Oltec, trading under the name AFC security, was hit with a defamation action after a mother-of-three told how she was “shadowed” step by step by a guard around the Early Learning Centre in Dublin.

Maria Kearns was awarded the five-figure sum against UK Mothercare, which operates the stores, and Oltec for the incident which took place more than two years ago.

The 29-year-old told a judge that she and her six-year-old child were followed around by a security guard who then accused her of shoplifting.

Judge Alan Mahon heard that Ms Kearns had been so distressed by the January 4, 2012 accusation that she had gone to her solicitor Kieran O’Connor within a week of the incident.

She also went on to suffer from depression and had to go to a doctor who prescribed antidepressants and sleeping tablets.

Ms Kearns says that after going into The Early Learning Centre with her two sisters an AFC security guard had walked only two steps behind them throughout the shop.

After paying for two items he had said: “She took that. she stole that.” She had become very angry and had returned to the store with her receipts.

A report in the Irish independent says that Ms Kearns said the security guard had also spat in her direction. The manager admitted on the day that there had been a misunderstanding. “Those words and the fact that the manager has not been called as a witness is key to deciding the case,” Judge Mahon said.