Man hit with €75k damages bill for Facebook 'defamation'

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A Monaghan man who posted an allegedly defamatory item on Facebook about the national director of the country's game shooting body was ordered to pay €75,000 in damages, in a civil case at Monaghan Circuit Criminal Court.

In awarding the maximum allowable damages against John Gilsenan, of Grigg, Doohamlet, Castleblayney, Judge John O'Hagan said yesterday his order should "teach people posting messages on the social media site to be very careful".

Desmond Crofton (63), of Cedarwood House, Stonestown, Co Offaly, took the civil action against Gilsenan in relation to a Facebook comment posted on or about December 22, 2015.

The court heard the allegedly defamatory item on Facebook suggested Mr Crofton, as its national director, had caused the National Regional Game Council to go "broke".

Mr Crofton gave an outline of how the Facebook comment had resulted in questions being raised by members about the organisation's finances, and legal costs.

This resulted in a confrontation that led to him being suspended on full pay by the body.

Mr Crofton told the court there were some 24,000 members in the game body and the Facebook item was very damaging.

He said there was no truth in the claim posted by Gilsenan as the organisation was completely solvent at the time, with over €7million in funding.

Gilsenan failed to appear in court and counsel said that although he engaged in some early communication with the plaintiff, he had since "abandoned" the matter.

Judge O'Hagan granted the award of €75,000 damages with costs, as stated.

Patsy McArdle