People who denied the seriousness of Covid-19 have found themselves facing thousands of pounds in fines for breaking lockdown laws.
Last month saw magistrates levy significant fines on people who protested against lockdown, “harassed” school staff for helping test children for Covid-19 and claimed the virus was “make-believe”.
The fines, which totalled more than £30,000, were levied under the single justice procedure in which cases are dealt with in private based only on written testimony and with no lawyers present.
Following requests by the ECHO for access to records of these cases, the identities of these people can now be revealed.
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‘Harassment’ outside Calderstones School
As the second lockdown began last November, a group of four turned up in a car at Calderstones School where the Army was providing testing services for pupils.
A video showed the group confronting soldiers and school staff, including the headteacher, shouting at pupils not to get tested and describing the virus as a “lie” and a “fraud”.
Their antics drew widespread condemnation from pupils, residents and politicians, with then-mayor Joe Anderson saying: “They are harassing school staff, intimidating and shouting at kids, their behaviour is totally unforgivable and I would like to see the police respond.”
Following coverage in regional and national media, Merseyside Police tasked PC Jordan Royle with identifying the people in the video.
In a statement submitted to the court, PC Royle said witnesses identified two of the people as Wesley Garner, 42, and his partner Lisa Holt, 43, both of Morriston on the outskirts of Swansea.
Further checks revealed the driver of the car to be Andrea Rimmer, 39, of Stradbroke Road in Wavertree.
PC Royle said: “Due to the location of this incident occurring outside a high school, the current restrictions the people of Merseyside and people across the [country] have been adhering to, the amount of calls about the incident, the social media interest and national newspaper coverage, the police must be seen to take action against these offenders.”
All three were therefore summonsed to court for participating in an outdoor gathering of more than two people. None of them responded to the summons.
Magistrate Penelope Barker found all three guilty on the basis of PC Royle’s statement and fined each of them £1,760. They must each also pay costs of £100 and a surcharge of £176 towards victim services, resulting in a total fine of £2,036 each.
Attempts to identify the fourth person in Rimmer’s car have not yet resulted in a prosecution.
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Lockdown protestors fined almost £20,000
When the second national lockdown was announced at the start of November 2020, Covid deniers staged a series of protests in Liverpool against the restrictions.
Each protest saw several hundred demonstrators descend on the city centre, including people from as far away as Lincolnshire and Hull, and were accompanied by several arrests and fines for breaching Covid restrictions.
So far, ten people have been fined in behind-closed-doors hearings for taking part in the protests last November.
These included Christopher Crookes, 35, of Emily Street in Thatto Heath, who was arrested near Salthouse Quay during the protest on November 14.
In a statement to the court, PC Christopher Daniels said attempts to detain Crookes, who was carrying a microphone and speaker and had been encouraging others to join the protest, led to other protestors attacking police officers.
PC Daniels said he had begun to approach Crookes after seeing him in the crowd of “300 or 400 people” several times, but Crookes had attempted to run away.
The officer said: “I have immediately ran after the male taking hold of him by his arm.
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“Upon doing this the male has become combative and began to resist making it impossible to deal with him at the side of the road.
“This had also caused [the] crowd to turn on myself and other officers and they have begun to start pushing and kicking at myself and the officers who [were] attempting to detain this male who was carrying the speaker.
“I have managed to take control of his arm along with other officers and begun to move the male towards [a] police vehicle which was a safer environment to deal with the male.
“Whilst moving the male to the police vehicle the crowd continued to attack myself and other officers.”
Crookes later calmed down and, despite initially refusing to give his details and claiming he had not committed a crime, eventually told officers who he was. He was then released and ordered to leave the area within 20 minutes.
Several other protestors dealt with in private hearings were found carrying megaphones and at least initially refused to provide their details.
These included Adam Stanley, 34, of Sonning Avenue, Litherland; Terence Oakes, 74, of Bishopdale Drive, Rainhill; Geza Tarjanyi, 60, of Leyland in Lancashire; and Mark Allison, 36, of Westgarth Avenue in Hull.
Another, 32-year-old Daryl Martin, of Hatherley Close in Toxteth, was described as being “one of the main instigators of the protest” on November 14 at which more than 20 people were arrested.
Nine of the protestors did not respond to the summons and were each fined £1,760 for breaching Covid regulations and order to pay £100 in costs and £176 as a surcharge towards victim services – a total of £2,036 each.
The only protestor to plead guilty to breaching Covid laws was Sean Steele, 21, of Grove Square, New Ferry.
PC Daniels, who also dealt with Steele on November 7, said Steele had been “shouting verbal abuse towards myself and my colleague” near King’s Dock.
The officer said: “The males [were] actively involved in the protest with the group of over 100 persons and thought that it was acceptable to be verbally abusive.
“The male did not provide a legitimate reason to be out and gave no explanation to why he was gathered with the protesters.”
Steele admitted taking part in an outdoor gathering of more than two people and was fined £800, plus £100 in costs and an £80 surcharge for victim services for a total of £960.
Ex-footballer fined for keeping soft play open in Tier 3
Former Bristol City right back Bradley Orr has had to pay more than £4,500 after persistently keeping his soft play centre open despite being instructed to close it under Tier 3 restrictions.
When confronted by police officers at his soft play centre, Cirq-d-Play in Great Homer Street, Orr wrongly claimed Magna Carta meant he could ignore Covid restrictions and claimed the virus was “make-believe”.
But his repeated refusal to obey the law saw him brought to court multiple times and fined a total of £3,960 along with £200 in costs and a surcharge of £366 towards victim services.