County Antrim businesswoman accused of breaching covid rules at Santa's Grotto claims: 'The law wasn't broken'

County Antrim businesswoman accused of breaching covid rules at Santa's Grotto claims: 'The law wasn't broken'

A KELLS-based businesswoman accused of breaching coronavirus regulations in relation to a Santa's Grotto told a court: "The law wasn't broken".

Jane Manders (40), of Shankbridge Road, denies the two charges she faces - contravening a covid regulation and allegedly failing to comply with a 'Prohibition Notice'.in relation to November 22, 2020.

She is self-representing in the case and told Ballymena Magistrates Court that on November 22, 2020, the legislation at that time was that you weren't allowed more than 30 people at a business or a dwelling.

The defendant added: "But there wasn't more than 30 people there."

The accused added: "The lockdown, the two week break that we had, didn't start until the 27th of November".

District Judge Nigel Broderick said the defendant should raise the matter with prosecutors.

When the judge suggested adjourning the case to March 3, the defendant told the court: "Can we go another day? That's my wedding anniversary."

The case has been listed for a contest on March 7.

The defendant explained to an earlier hearing she was given two fixed penalty notices totalling £3,000 on November 22, 2020, and police told her if it didn't shut down she would get a fine every 15 minutes.

That court heard the defendant was given a fixed penalty notice for £1,000 at 5.30pm in connection with an allegation of 'hosting an event at a private dwelling'.

At 5.50pm on the same date she was then given a second fixed penalty for £2,000.

The court heard there appeared to be duplication regarding the charges before the court and the fixed penalties.

The defendant told the recent court she "never had an event" and claimed police told her they would "keep coming back every 15 minutes with another fine until you close".

The accused added: "I had nothing to do with this. The police came down and said I was holding an event. I wasn't holding an event, I was serving food and I was legally allowed to do that."

She recently told the court in Ballymena: "I had actually nothing to do with this Santa's Grotto, I am a chef."

She had said the Santa's Grotto was being "operated" by others.

She had claimed the "only reason" she got caught up in the prosecution was because the "police barged in on a child who was in with Santa Claus" and there was an "extremely upset child".

The defendant told the previous court: "The Santa Claus obviously should be being prosecuted for this and so should the elves and the photographer."

  • Main picture: Generic image of Santa.