A battling mum who took camping specialists Apcoa to court and won a refund of the fee she was wrongly charged last May has admitted she was s******g herself when she stepped into the witness box.

But brave Maria O’Connor, 40, and a mother of two, from Navan , has now encouraged other motorists to do the same.

Maria’s problems began when she was attending a surprise 70th birthday for her aunt in a local Chinese restaurant and parked her car in the nearby Foresters car park a spot notorious for clamping.

She recalled, ‘ I used the Apcoa app to buy a ticket for two hours and went back with forty five minutes still left on it to update it and couldn’t believe I had been clamped.

‘I rang Apcoa and they insisted it was cash only in that car park and a pay and display ticket had to be used that using the app did not work.

‘I pointed out that there were no signs anywhere in the place to say that but they wouldn’t budge on it until I paid the €125 declamping fee.

‘I was angry over that but what really made me determined was that six days later a neighbour came to me and said that when she had exactly the same situation in exactly the same place they refunded her fee.

‘I emailed Apcoa three or four times and they wouldn’t change their minds so I decided to go to the small claims court.

‘I had never been in court in my life until last Friday and when I was told to step in the witness box and swear on the bible I was s******g myself but I told the judge exactly what had happened and that there was no signage there to say cash only or pay and display he agreed.

‘A man from Apcoa argued their case but the judge ruled in my favour and ordered them to refund me the €125

‘Before it went to court I highlighted the issue in local media and within days proper signage did go up but there was none there then.

My husband Alan O’Connor is a miner in Tara Mines and is currently out of work with the mines closing and that’s why €125 is precious to me

‘That is the reason for trying to get my money back through the court. APCOA taking money from ordinary hard working people who do right really upsets me

‘I would absolutely advise anyone who used the Apcoa app in this car park and was clamped prior to August 2023 to take a small claims case it only costs €25 and you will win.

‘I would say to motorists everywhere stand up to the clamping bullies as there are rules in place to govern them but they don’t always play by those rules.’

Apcoa do not comment on individual cases