A 45-year-old man, who finished his walk in the park by drinking lager with someone else, has been fined £500 for what a Magistrate described as a “flagrant breach” of the lockdown rules.
Jade Hamon was arrested over the weekend as the first offender under new emergency laws designed to keep islanders in their homes for most of the day, except for certain essential purposes including food shopping, healthcare and daily exercise, in order to curb the spread of covid-19.
Appearing before Jersey’s Assistant Magistrate Peter Harris by video link, Hamon admitted the incident which took place over the weekend – an offence under a new law stating that “a person must not, unless an exception applies, without reasonable excuse go into or remain in a public place during a period of restricted movement."
The Court heard that on the afternoon of Saturday (4 April), Hamon was accompanying someone he knew who was struggling with mental health issues to do their daily exercise when the pair decided to remain in the park and drink lager together, whilst social distancing.
Advocate Chris Baglin, prosecuting, also explained that in the days leading up the offence, Hamon had been seen out by officers on three occasions apparently for reasons other than the activities stipulated by the emergency law as ‘essential’.
Advocate Baglin said that the Police felt “some frustration that Mr Hamon seemed to be coming and going as he pleased”.
Admitting that the breaches of the current public health advice were “quite low level,” the prosecutor explained that they still constituted “taking up Police time”.
Advocate Adam Harrison explained that the outing had initially been in line with the health guidance as his client had been accompanying someone to help them complete their daily exercise, as per the Government allowance, but that Hamon accepts he should not have remained in the park afterwards to drink lager.
Addressing Hamon directly, the Court judge warned: “You have got to understand that the corona virus epidemic is a serious matter. You are not fireproof.”
He cautioned Hamon against taking up the time of the emergency services as well as reminding him that his actions amounted to “putting other people at risk".
Pictured: The first offence under the new law took place at the Millennium Park (Google Maps).
He added that “it will not be tolerated,” and described the incident as “a flagrant breach” of the current health advice.
Whilst Assistant Magistrate Harris accepted that meeting up with someone to “help them deal with their circumstances” may be “laudable in itself,” this “doesn’t involve sitting down in a public park and drinking alcohol".
As this offence was committed whilst Hamon was on bail, the Assistant Magistrate varied his conditions to only allow him out for two hours per day – formalising the current Government health advice.
Ultimately, Assistant Magistrate Harris decided to fine Hamon £500, but due to the defendant’s current financial situation, he ordered that payment should be deferred for an initial period of six months.
The arrest came following a weekend of patrols by Police officers, who said they made a total of 72 'stop checks', involving asking pedestrians or groups whether there were reasonable grounds for not complying with restrictions.
They also stopped 1,414 vehicles, made 67 beach and park visits, and visited 118 premises - one of which was closed.
Pictured: Police stopped over 1,400 vehicles over the weekend.
228 islanders received 'words of advice'.
State of Jersey Police Chief Robin Smith said: “I’m really pleased with how the Island has responded to the Stay Home Order this weekend. Together we’re trying to adjust to this new normality and it’s clear that most are absolutely playing their part.
“There have, regrettably, been some who have needed additional guidance but in general people are being highly responsible, for which we are thankful.”
Chief Officer Smith added: “With further good weather forecast this week, and the forthcoming Easter weekend, we do hope that the public will continue to show the same level of support and consideration for fellow Islanders that they have thus far.”
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