Man jailed for bid to wipe lockdown breach footage

time:2023-06-10 23:18:05source:Al Jazeera author:Press center8

A man who broke Covid lockdown rules by serving wine and mince pies at a shooting club, then later attempted to destroy evidence, has been jailed.

Licence holder Maurice Snelling broke tier three restrictions at Cloudside Shooting Grounds in 2020.

At the time, venues in Staffordshire were only allowed to operate as a takeaway or a drive-through.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard the 72-year-old claimed his premises was in Cheshire, which was in tier two.

The rules there allowed customers to consume alcohol inside a venue if accompanied by a substantial meal.

Snelling, of Cloudside, had pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice at an earlier hearing and was sentenced on Tuesday to six months in prison.

He had claimed that because the grounds had a CW12 postcode he had not breached regulations, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

But Circuit Judge David Fletcher rejected this as the defendant had lived in the area for 30 years and had his bins emptied by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.

He said: "I find it hard to believe that Mr Snelling didn't know which lockdown tier he was in."

The allegations came to light after residents reported concerns about gatherings at the club, between Congleton and Rushton Spencer, in December 2020 and January 2021.

The court heard Snelling did not respond to requests by Staffordshire Police to review CCTV footage and he later contacted CCTV contractor, Welch Services, to ask for the hard drive to be removed from the system.

Prosecutor Ben Lawrence said: "Mr Snelling was angry and demanding."

The company felt uncomfortable and instead gave a copy to the police, informing them Snelling might claim a leak had damaged the footage.

Thomas Sherrington, mitigating, said his client genuinely believed the premises fell into Cheshire and since proceedings had started, he had suffered multiple heart attacks and the prognosis was "grim".

He added: "This has tarnished his reputation. He believed he was targeted by neighbours and this built up resentment of a man with good character."

But Judge Fletcher said the offence "strikes at the heart of justice".

The judge said: "[Snelling] is anti-establishment, especially to the police. He doesn't like being told what to do. He treated police with resentment."

StokeonTrentLive previously reported the club had had its licence to serve alcohol revoked.

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