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ILLEGAL PARTY: Lockdown fines given out

ILLEGAL PARTY: Lockdown fines given out

Image: Merseyside Police

Three people have been fined thousands of pounds for attending a lockdown party at a city centre hotel where a police officer was headbutted.

Officers broke up multiple parties at the Richmond Hotel in Hatton Garden in the early hours of January 31, when a national lockdown meant people were required to stay at home.

Accounts of the incident said more than 50 people were found in the hotel, with door staff acting “like a meet and greet”, no social distancing and “white powder” found on the reception desk.

The raid on the hotel saw several arrests and fines for breaching coronavirus rules. Three of those found at the Richmond saw their cases dealt with last Friday (August 13) in a behind-closed-doors hearing, the details of which have now been released to the LDRS.

In a statement provided to Wirral Magistrates’ Court, PC Ryan Torley said: “Whilst present at the address it was apparent that multiple parties were taking place across multiple floors.

“The parties contained many persons of all ages who were both intoxicated and under the influence of drugs.”

Another officer, PC Thomas Snape, said there was “a strong smell of cannabis” in the hotel reception and “remnants of white powder on the carpet” of the landings upstairs.

PC Snape added: “Music could be heard coming from various rooms within the hotel and [there] appeared to be numerous individuals aged approximately from their late teens to early thirties walking around the hotel landings appearing to be dressed as though they were on a night out and also appearing to be under the influence of alcohol.”

In one room, PC Torley said he detained 20-year-old Bradley Bailey, of Tarbock Road in Speke, who was “quickly moving and placing his hands towards his pockets and waistline after sighting police”.

PC Torley continued: “There was clear evidence of drug use within the flat and snap bags of cannabis and cocaine littered across several tables as well as psychoactive substances being used for human consumption.

“I engaged with Bailey who appeared disinterested in what I had to say regarding the Covid regulations and the clear breach which had occurred this evening.

“Bailey was present in a flat having an apparent party and he appeared intoxicated which suggested he had been drinking in the flat.

“This was a blatant breach of the regulations and Bailey appeared to take little care or notice to this, [he] was only aggrieved that he had been issued a fine in relation to this.”

Meanwhile, on one of the landings, PC Snape spoke to a group of men including 24-year-old Connor Bell, of Cooperage Close in L8.

PC Snape said Bell was “clearly under the influence of alcohol and possibly drugs” and issued him with a fine for breaching lockdown.

PC Georgina Meade also spoke to a group of young people, including 22-year-old Leigh Banks, of Grant Avenue in Wavertree, whom she described as “smug” and issued with a Covid fine.

On Friday, a magistrate found Bailey and Bell guilty of being away from their home address without a reasonable excuse and fined them each £1,760, along with another £276 in court costs and surcharges.

Banks pleaded guilty to taking part in an indoor gathering of two or more people and was fined £320, plus £134 in costs and surcharges.

On the same day, the court also heard that she had been found at another party on March 1, this time at a flat in Duke Street with seven other people.

She was fined another £320, plus £134 in costs and surcharges, after admitting this offence as well.

Earlier this year, a licensing committee at Liverpool Council placed additional conditions on the hotel’s licence following an application from Merseyside Police.

At the meeting, the hotel’s owner Stephen Hesketh said a unique series of events had occurred, with the duty manager who would normally be on duty calling in sick.

He said the receptionist and security staff then failed to call for help from either senior management or staff at another hotel across the street which is also under his ownership.

Mr Hesketh said the hotel had suffered extreme financial hardship since the incident was reported and that had meant staff members not involved in the incident had also lost their jobs.

He said: “Lessons have been learnt, and I don’t like to go on but it has been detrimental to the hotel financially in every sense of the word, and the press and the way the story has been taken has been deeply impactful physically.”

He added: “It has been exceptionally stressful. I feel the lessons learnt will be taken exceptionally seriously. You have my word on that.”

Words: Chris McKeon, Local Democracy Reporter

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