Coronavirus: Woman fined £660 for refusing to tell police why she'd left her home

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Marie Dinou was found 'loitering between platforms' at Newcastle Central Station. (Getty/stock photo)

A woman who was the first person to be arrested on the railways for breaching coronavirus restrictions has been fined £660.

Marie Dinou, 41, from York, was found "loitering between platforms" at Newcastle Central Station at around 8am on Saturday.

Officers called to the station approached Dinou and attempted to explain the reasons behind government rules behind essential travel during the pandemic.

However, Dinou refused to speak to officers, and she was subsequently arrested on suspicion of travel fraud and breaching the restrictions imposed under the new Coronavirus Act 2020.

She appeared at North Tyneside Magistrates' Court on Monday and was fined £660 for failing to comply with the requirements set out in the act.

Dinou was also ordered to pay a £66 victim surcharge and £85 costs.

British Transport Police Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan said: “While a ticket offence had also been committed in this case, enforcement of any sort under the new regulations really is a last resort, especially arrest.

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“In this case, officers tried their upmost best to engage with Dinou. I can assure you we would much rather not have to take such action.

“We strongly urge the public to do the right thing and help us save lives by staying at home and slowing the spread of the virus.”

Under Schedule 21 of the Coronavirus Act, it is illegal to fail to comply with the instructions of police officers without reasonable excuse.

The maximum penalty is a fine of £1,000.

Police forces were told this week people should not be punished for travelling a “reasonable distance” to exercise following criticism of heavy-handed tactics used to enforce the COVID-19 lockdown.

Read more: Senior officers deny UK is now a 'police state' amid claims forces 'went too far'

The new guidance, issued by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing on Tuesday night, also states that road checks on every vehicle are “disproportionate”.

It comes after Derbyshire Police faced a backlash for using drones to film walkers in the Peak District, while North Yorkshire Police stopped motorists at “checkpoints” last week.

The new guidance states: “Use your judgement and common sense; for example, people will want to exercise locally and may need to travel to do so, we don’t want the public sanctioned for travelling a reasonable distance to exercise.

“Road checks on every vehicle is equally disproportionate. We should reserve enforcement only for individuals who have not responded to engage, explain, and encourage, where public health is at risk.”

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