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Two appear in court over breach of regulations as PSNI have busy New Year's Eve


Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan

Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan


Two people appeared in court on Friday after being arrested for Covid-19 regulations breaches on New Year's Eve.

Both accused are already facing similar charges, while one has numerous unpaid tickets issued for previous breaches.

Ruari Saunders (35) and Lucy Richardson (23) both with separate addresses at Richmond Avenue, Eglinton appeared at a special sitting of Dungannon Magistrates Court by video-link from police custody, where an officer confirmed the charge against each could be connected.

She explained police received a report on New Year's Eve of an ongoing gathering at Saunders' flat. On arrival six persons were located, of which the two were arrested.

Both are also facing similar charges from a previous incident which is due in court later this month, and because of that it was decided to bring them to court straight away rather than release them on bail, as had been the case in the first instance.

Richardson has to date been given five "Covid tickets" totalling £1,800 in fines, which remain unpaid.

A defence lawyer for Saunders asked to have his matter dealt with and offered to enter an immediate guilty plea.

However, the court heard Covid-19 breaches are exclusively handled by a particular section within the Public Prosecution Service and time is required to review all cases.

District Judge Michael Ranaghan remanded the pair on £300 bail with conditions including abiding by all Covid-19 regulations: "Which everybody should be doing".

The cases have been adjourned for mention at Londonderry Magistrates Court later this month.

Elsewhere, police figures released on Friday showed house parties breaching Covid guidelines in Northern Ireland on New Year's Eve saw police issue 126 fines of £200 as well as issuing 34 warnings.

Commenting on operations on Thursday evening into Friday morning, the PSNI also reported a significant number of call-outs for domestic violence incidents.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan said: "Despite the new health regulation restrictions in place, our officers had a really busy night across Northern Ireland.

"Between 8pm on New Year's Eve to 8am this morning, we received 1,004 calls for service in relation to reports of anti-social behaviour, assault, concern for safety, criminal damage, missing persons and traffic collisions."


Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan

Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan

Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan

He said the number of domestic abuse incidents was "of particular concern," with 86 reports of domestic abuse from homes across Northern Ireland, with 38 arrests made.

"Sadly, we know domestic abuse doesn't only occur at Christmas, that it happens all year round. Historically, however, figures show over the Christmas period incidents of domestic abuse rise," he said.

"We also know that during this pandemic more people have been, and will continue to, spend more time at home than they usually would.

"The combined impact of this pandemic and the festive season will have made it really tough for people experiencing abuse and, in some situations, even worse."

Belfast Telegraph