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OAP’S FURY Party pensioner says 'I'll go to jail before paying penny of £1k fine' for Covid rules breach

'There’s absolutely no chance I’ll be paying £1,000 for having a so-called party with five or six people in my own house'

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Pensioner Martin Lavery

Pensioner Martin Lavery

Pensioner Martin Lavery

Party pensioner Martin Lavery says he’ll go to jail before he pays a whopping £1,000 fine for breaching Covid rules.

The 71-year-old was fined last Friday after police were called to his Park Road home in Portadown, twice in one night in February.

He was fined £1,000 for the breach while his 48-year-old stepson Tommy Creaney was fined £500 for the same event.

Neither appeared at Craigavon Magistrates Court where a solicitor entered guilty pleas on their behalf to one count of contravening Covid regulations.

And, in fact, neither man was even aware they had been handed such large fines until we called at their door to ask them for a comment.

And in a twist of irony, District Judge Bernie Kelly told the court that if she had her way Covid rebels like them would be denied future treatment from the NHS – not knowing Lavery was actually in hospital at the time recovering from a heart problem!

After dishing out the fine, Judge Kelly commented: “Do you know what should happen if you breach Covid regulations? You should be struck off the NHS list.”

Mr Lavery, known throughout Portadown as ‘Carter’, had collapsed on Tuesday July 6 and spent eight nights being cared for by NHS staff at Craigavon Area Hospital.

He says he was completely oblivious to the court proceedings or the judge’s comments which took place as he lay in a hospital bed.

We spoke to both men at their Park Road home on Wednesday afternoon and neither had a clue they now owed a fortune in fines.

“There’s absolutely no chance I’ll be paying £1,000 for having a so-called party with five or six people in my own house,” said Martin.

“I can’t believe that’s how much they fined us, it’s disgusting. I thought you were winding me up. I’ve come out of hospital to this, it’s a joke.

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Tommy Creaney

Tommy Creaney

Tommy Creaney

 

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“I’ll go to jail before I pay a penny of that fine. For God’s sake I was in bed the second time the police called and Tommy was drinking with a couple of nephews and he couldn’t get them out of the house.

“It’s not like we were having a rave or dozens of people in the house – just a few people. I’m absolutely sick at the thought of the way the court has treated us.

“I’m 71 years old and I don’t this kind of aggro at my age. Until this I’ve stuck by the Covid rules throughout.”

At court Mr Lavery’s solicitor also made admissions on behalf of his client to a second charge of failing to comply with a prohibition as he was the owner of the house, hence his fine being double his stepson’s.

Prosecution outlined that on February 6 at around 4pm, police received complaints about a party at an address on Park Road in Portadown.

Upon arrival, officers located five people, including Lavery and Creaney, from three households.

Police issued them with a Covid-4 notices and served the property with a Covid-2 notice, more commonly known as a prohibition notice.

Officers left the property but later received a further report that the party was still ongoing at the address.

This time police arrived and despite knocking on the door for 20 minutes, were refused entry.

When they informed the occupants that they could force entry, they were allowed in.

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Tommy Creaney speaks to reporter Steven Moore

Tommy Creaney speaks to reporter Steven Moore

Tommy Creaney speaks to reporter Steven Moore

 

Inside they found five people. Three of these were issued with Covid-4 notices but as Creaney and Lavery had previously been issued with the same they were informed that they would be referred to the prosecution service.

Defence solicitor John McAtamney said: “The resident of the address was Mr Lavery. Mr Creaney has since moved in but that was not the case at the time of the incident.

“They had been having drinks at Mr Lavery’s home when a few others then came in to join them.”

Creaney and Lavery were ordered to pay £500 and £1,000 respectively, along with the offender’s levy of £15.

On Wednesday Tommy Creaney told the Sunday World he’d do the time in prison too, rather than pay the fine.

“I haven’t got it, I won’t have it, I’ll do the time behind bars thanks very much,” he said.

“I did before over a previous fine. I did three days in prison. I had a room with a telly so I was happy enough.

“How can they dish out such a stupid fine for five or six people in a house? Look at Wembley the other day for God’s sake.”

Asked what were the chances he’d pay any of the fine and he replied: “No chance.”

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