Schoolboy’s £10K Covid fine for lockdown house party dismissed

Police issued the teenager with a fine after a party was held at his house in Wiltshire.

A £10,000 fine issued to a schoolboy in Devizes for having a party in lockdown has been dismissed by a judge.

The 18-year-old was given the fine after a school leaving party he organised for a few friends in September last year was gatecrashed.

It was the first fine issued in lockdown by Wiltshire Police, and it was contested by the teen’s parents who were on holiday at the time.

At a case management hearing at Swindon Magistrates’ Court on 16 March, District Judge Joanna Dickens dismissed the fine - and said she was “troubled” by what had happened.

Police issued the fine after attending the address in Devizes in September last year.

‘Fines bandied about by police’

She highlighted errors in the law which were quoted in the fixed penalty notice, which was issued to the teen.

"I do want to make an observation that a £10,000 fine, if they’re going to be issued, they should at the very least contain the correct and relevant sections [of law] to allow people to work out what their rights to appeal are,” she told the court.

"Nothing of what I have said is intended in any way to suggest that breaking coronavirus rules is anything less than a serious matter for us all.

"That’s my comment. It’s a very unusual case for the court to not amend a charge in the interests of justice.”

A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said the force was "surprised" by the dismissal and will seek an "urgent meeting" with the CPS to review the case.

The fine was dismissed by a judge, who said she was 'troubled' by what had happened.

Police said the fine was issued "at the height of the coronavirus pandemic".

The force added: "Further to the fine being contested, the CPS independently reviewed the available evidence and authorised a charge as is routine in such cases.

"Our policing response to the ongoing public health pandemic will continue to be robust, proportionate and consistent. It remains vital that everyone takes personal responsibility for their actions and adheres to the restrictions which are in place."

A CPS spokesman said: “We note the judge’s comments and are examining what happened in this case before deciding next steps.”

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