Top Dublin nightspot held responsible for 'heinous' assault on student

Elaine Bennett
Elaine Bennett

A Dublin nightclub has been held to be as responsible for a “heinous” assault on a student as the “private army” it employed to mount security on its premises, a judge has decided.

Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke said Triglen Holdings, trading as Krystle Nightclub, had “engaged and let loose a private army,” a member of which had assaulted the 28-year-old student.

Judge Groarke had already awarded student Elaine Bennett €15,000 damages for personal injuries she received at the club on New Year’s night 2014 but had been asked to decide if P&B Security Services Ltd (now in liquidation) or Krystle Nightclub should pay. 

Bennett claimed she was punched and kicked by female bouncer Dawn Cleary whose evidence, the judge said, he could not believe. 

Judge Groarke today ruled that both defendants were jointly and severally liable to pay Ms Bennett’s damages and legal costs bill. He said the nightclub had a responsibility to supervise the security company staff. 

He said CCTV footage showed that Ms Bennett, who was intoxicated, had pushed Ms Cleary down the entrance stairs of the nightclub at Harcourt Street, Dublin, but the bouncer’s “heinous” assault had been out of order.

Bennett, from Cork, had earlier told the court she had been celebrating the new year with friends when they decided to go to Krystle Nightclub. She had stayed outside for a smoke and when she had wanted to get in, she was refused by the bouncers on grounds she was too drunk. 

She told her barrister Mark O’Connell that she left the area but came back half an hour later as her friends were still inside and she was alone on the street.  She was again refused entry.

When she had asked again to be let in Ms Cleary had suddenly attacked her, pulling her to the ground by her hair.  She had been punched and kicked on her body and face before another security guard separated them. 

She had gone to her GP a few days later, complaining of bruising on her face and body.  Her wounds had left a permanent scar under her right eye. 

Bennett, of Glenary, Glencoo Park, Boreenmana Road in Cork, sued Triglen Holdings Ltd and P&B Security Services Ltd (now in liquidation), with a registered address at  Newhall, Naas, Co Kildare, for negligence.  

The defendants had denied liability and claimed Bennett had been racially abusive towards security staff, pushing Ms Cleary down the stairs and calling her a bitch and a Polish lesbian.  

She had called another bouncer a “Polish bastard.”

Judge Groarke said that although the bouncers had an obligation to refuse Ms Bennett entry because she was intoxicated, he was satisfied she had been viciously assaulted.  

She can now seek to recover damages and costs from either of the two defendants.