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Man fined for two parties in breach of Covid-19 regulations

Magistrates Court (photo by Glenn Tucker)

A man who threw two block parties in breach of Covid-19 regulations was yesterday fined $2,500.

Magistrates’ Court heard one of the “Pandemic Saturdays – Wet and Wild Edition“ parties had more than three times the maximum of 50 people present.

Carl Murphy, 42, pleaded guilty to two counts of organisation of events on Middle Town Drive, Pembroke that exceeded the Covid-19 rule on gatherings.

Clifton Ross-Powell, a co-accused, was charged with the same offences on December 9 last year and has pleaded not guilty.

The court heard that Murphy, from Pembroke, was a co-organiser of Pandemic Saturdays, the first of which was held on Middle Town Drive on August 1 last year.

Police officers, who had a good view of the party because of street lights and lights from the surrounding houses, saw more than 150 people in attendance.

They did not seen anyone in masks or people using social distancing.

Government safety regulations at the time forbade gatherings of more than 50 people without a permit from the health ministry.

Police said they could also smell cannabis and heard loud music that continued until 1am the next day.

They added cars were also parked along the street and blocked the flow of traffic.

Officers spoke to the organisers, who admitted that they did not have permission from the health ministry to have a gathering of more than 50 people.

They also told police they did not have permits to play music late or to close off the road.

Police told Murphy on August 7 and told him he would have to appear in court on a charge of a breach of the regulations.

Murphy told officers: “I do not want a summons, I’m just trying to bring some positivity to the community and will be getting a permit for the next event.”

Police advised Murphy to postpone the next event, scheduled to take place the next night, until he received a permit.

They also offered him advice on how to obtain permits and gave him information on the regulations, as well as news reports about the noise complaints from the previous party.

But officers later discovered that the party went ahead without permission.

Kentisha Tweed, for the Crown, said police could see about 100 people on Middle Town Drive who did not stick to social distancing rules or wear masks.

The road had again been blocked off by cars and police heard loud music and detected the smell of cannabis.

Police traced Murphy and informed him that he would be charged again.

Murphy yesterday told the court that the events were free neighbourhood parties designed to lift people’s moods in the pandemic.

He claimed that he tried to keep attendance under 50 people and to make sure that people wore masks.

But he said he had struggled to enforce the rules because “people are unruly”.

Murphy added: “It was never my intention to break the rules.”

Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe fined Murphy $1,500 for the first charge and $1,000 on the second.

He ordered him to pay the fines by April 15.

Mr Wolffe added: “These measures have been put in place to protect others and while I appreciate that you wanted to provide entertainment for those who were inside for the better part of three to four months, you should have tried to do better.”

Mr Ross-Powell is expected to be tried on March 30.