Greater Manchester man fined £500 after flouting coronavirus restrictions

A man has been fined £500 after he refused to obey the coronavirus lockdown and told police he can do what he wants.

Steven Mackie, 53, was arrested outside a Tesco store in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, on Saturday after within 15 minutes he twice flouted emergency restrictions brought in place to attempt to halt the spread of the virus.

Police were called to the store at about 5.30pm to reports of a man acting in an anti-social manner outside as he approached queuing members of the public.

Mackie offered no reasonable explanation as to why he was out in public and was driven home in a police van, Stockport Magistrates' Court heard.

On the journey to his home in Stamford Street he began kicking and punching the inside of the vehicle, said prosecutor Neil Smart.

Mackie told officers he was going to return to Tesco "no matter what they said", said the prosecutor and informed them: "I'll see you there."

Police arrested him after he kept his promise and went back to the store at 5.45pm and again refused to keep two metres apart from the public as he said: "I can do what I want."

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He was taken to the police station where he added: "I was six feet away according to Boris Johnson's guidelines. What a waste of money and time this is. Six officers attending, have you got nothing else better to do."

Mackie was produced from custody on Monday at the court and was wearing a blue protective mask - the only person in the courtroom to do so.

He pleaded guilty to one count of failing to maintain public health and causing public disorder and nuisance but the court heard the maximum penalty for the new offence under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020 was an unlimited fine.

Kirsten Collins, defending, said: "There is nothing that the defendant disputes. It was a stupid decision and he regrets his actions. He is embarrassed by his own behaviour."

Mackie apologised from the dock to chair of the bench Neill Brettell.

Mackie was also ordered to pay £85 prosecution costs and a £50 victim surcharge.

He must pay the total amount in weekly instalments of £5 and was told he would go to prison if the sum was not paid on time each week.

Mackie gave the magistrate a thumbs-up sign before he later walked free from court.