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refused to close Gym owner could be fined tens of thousands for Covid breach

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Declan Trainor

Declan Trainor

Declan Trainor

A Newry gym owner accused of breaching Covid regulations faces fines up to £10,000 for each offence a court heard today.

With Declan Trainor facing three charges of breaching Covid regulations by refusing to close his gym, the 32-year-old could be fined up to £30,000.

Previously the Co. Down man had represented himself during proceedings at Newry Magistrates Court, indicating that he intended to “challenge the jurisdiction” of the court but today, solicitor Joseph McVeigh said he had been instructed by the defendant.

Trainor, from Rossmara Park in Warrenpoint, faces charges on two bills of indictment charging him with three counts of contravening requirements under the Covid restrictions, allegedly committed on dates between 1-8 December this year.

When he first appeared in court last month, he was asked if he had anything to say and the defendant stated: "My name is Declan. I am a living man. I was born on 11 of the eighth '88".

Trainor said he had provided the court with letters, one of which being a "request for clarification" which he wished for the district judge to "fill out".

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Declan Trainor

Declan Trainor

Declan Trainor

He added that he also wanted "disclosure" on the law as he was "challenging the jurisdiction" of the court, requesting that he be supplied with "evidence" within 28 days.

The Covid charges arise following a handful of videos, shot by Trainor himself at The Gym in Newry city, which shows half a dozen officers arresting him after they gain entry to his premises as he debates with them the legalities of their actions.

In the videos, which have been shared thousands of times across social media platforms and which have attracted both vehement support and stinging criticism, Trainor calls on the public to “take a stand” against Covid restrictions.

In court today (wed), a prosecuting lawyer said the directing officer had requested the footage from the officers’ body worn cameras, adding that the material was due to be received in two weeks time.

Mr McVeigh told Deputy District Judge Sean O’Hare he intended to lodge a bail variation application as Trainor was seeking the return of his £2,500 cash surety which was lodged with the court as part of his bail conditions.

He said given the offences Trainor faces can only be dealt with in the Magistrates Court, “it seems perplexing that there is a surety in the case.”

Adjourning the case to 20 January, DDJ O’Hare said while it may be a petty sessions case, “the maximum sentence is a £10,000 fine.”

He told Trainor, who came in to court wearing a face mask as his case was called, that while the PPS file was not yet completed “it’s within target and Mr McVeigh will advise you about the bail variation.”

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