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Mum forced to pay over £2k after driving to Norfolk during self-isolation

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021 3:40pm

By Eddie Bisknell, Local Democracy Reporter @EddieBisk

A Derbyshire mum has been made to pay out more than £2,000 after leaving her house to drive to Norfolk 160 miles away when she was supposed to be self-isolating.

Penelope James, aged 50, of Cromford Place in Fairfield, Buxton, has been made to pay out £2,021 – double the initial fine – after leaving her home after returning from Spain to drive her mother-in-law to Norwich.

The initial fine had been £1,000, but Miss James refused to pay up, telling police as much at the time, with her case eventually reaching the desk of a Derby magistrate due to failure to pay or indicate a plea.

Miss James was issued the fine after breaking Covid legislation dictating that she self-isolate in her home for two weeks after returning from Spain.

Miss James’ case was dealt with in a matter of minutes behind closed doors through a process called the Single Justice Procedure, usually used for driving and TV licence fines.

A witness statement from PC Patrick Haley, supplied by the court to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, details that the UK Border Force had called Derbyshire Police after being unable to contact her to ensure she was self-isolating.

PC Haley and PCSO Cook went to Miss James’ address in Cromford Place on August 11 and found nobody was home and returned later to check again.

This is when Miss James’ young son, aged around 10, approached police and said he had been left at the home of a neighbour nearby.

The report says the neighbour called Miss James who said she and her partner “were just taking her mother in law to Norfolk or Norwich”.

PC Haley challenged this and said she was supposed to be self-isolating and would be issued with a ticket, to which Miss James responded “Do it, I won’t pay it”.

PC Haley writes: “I recall this clearly because I was shocked at the laissez-faire attitude towards this incident and the greater social consequences. There didn’t seem any intention to stick to the rules.”

A closed-doors hearing was held at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court on March 18, at which Magistrate Paul Dickerson handed Miss James guilty. Details of the case have just been released.

She has been made to pay a total of £2,021, of which £1,760 is the fine, £176 is a victim surcharge and £85 is court costs.

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