Kells businesswoman accused of Covid breach tells a court police said they would 'fine her every 15 minutes' if Santa's Grotto didn't close

Kells businesswoman accused of Covid breach tells a court police said they would 'fine her every 15 minutes' if Santa's Grotto didn't close

A KELLS-based businesswoman accused of breaching coronavirus regulations in relation to a Santa's Grotto claims she was given two fixed penalty notices totalling £3,000 and police told her if it didn't shut down she would get a fine every 15 minutes.

Jane Manders (40), of Shankbridge Road, is charged in relation to November 22, 2020.

Ballymena Magistrates Court was told that at 5.30pm on November 22 the defendant was given a fixed penalty notice for £1,000 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 was told the fixed penalties had yet to be paid.

The defendant is charged with contravening a covid regulation and also allegedly failing to comply with a 'Prohibition Notice'.

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

The defendant, Court News NI can report, said she "never had an event" and told the court 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."

The defendant denies the two charges she faces and the case is set to to be contested at a later date.

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."

The case has been adjourned to February 24.