A JUDGE fined the co-owner of a Ballymena beauty salon owner £1,200 for opening during the Covid lockdown last January saying there had to be an "element of punishment and deterrents" at a time when concerns continue to be expressed about the pandemic.
District Judge Nigel Broderick was speaking at Ballymena Magistrates Court where Ilinca Tabacaru (37), of Grange Avenue, Ballymena, pleaded guilty to a coronavirus regulation breach relating to Sunday January 10 this year.
The court heard for business breaches there were £1,000 fixed penalties but the judge said he had to fine the defendant more than that as it had come to court.
Judge Broderick said: "These are important regulations and there must be an element of punishment and deterrents especially as we are entering into another significant wave of infections and concern expressed by the Executive in terms of everyone trying to to do what they can to mitigate against the continued progression of this coronavirus."
A prosecutor said police received a report of a 'hair salon' called 'Ilinca Style' at Queen Street in Ballymena "operating in breach of the Covid-19 regulations that applied at that time".
He said police found the shutters "partially opened" and they could see hair cuttings on the floor.
There were a number of people inside and the lights were on.
The defendant was spoken to and she confirmed she was the joint owner of the salon and another female present was her co-owner.
The prosecutor said there had been "three customers" present, one of whom was having her nails tended to by the defendant's colleague.
The defendant refused to have the matter dealt with by way of a fixed penalty.
She had no record.
A defence lawyer said it was believed the co-owner had paid a fixed penalty.
The defence lawyer said the defendant's "customer" was her mother.
She said the defendant said she had gone to the salon on the Sunday in response to emails from the authorities for businesses to prepare for re-opening and they had to put up signage and screens and she was "in the process of doing that".
The lawyer said the defendant's mother had come with her.
The defence lawyer said when the defendant arrived at the salon the co-owner was present and the defendant "turned a blind eye to whatever was going on with the co-owner".
The co-owner was tending to nails with people the defendant "recognised as customers".
The defendant and the co-owner "both ran their own clients", the defendant "the hair" and the co-owner dealt with the "beauty aspect".
The lawyer said the defendant would say she had not been "operating as a business" because she had been doing her mum's hair as a "familial favour".
The court heard the then co-owner has now "returned to Romania" but the defendant is still in business.
The lawyer said the defendant now "accepts she should not have turned a blind eye to what this other female was doing and should have taken more interventionist action at the time".