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Fines quadrupled for man who attended Traveller brawl during Covid lockdown

Armagh Magistrates Court

A man who declined a fixed-penalty-notice for attending a Traveller fight in Armagh in breach of COVID guidelines is fined £400 in Court.

Edward McDonagh, 46, of The Glen, Coalisland, appeared before Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting in Newry, on Tuesday (June 28).

He was charged with two counts of contravention of a requirement under regulation, namely breach of restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Court heard that on February 28 of last year, while COVID-19 restrictions were in place, a mass gathering took place in a yard on the Battleford Road outside Armagh, with around 190 to 200 people in attendance.

The Prosecution outlined that the purpose of the gathering was to “facilitate several pre-arranged fights between members of the travelling community.”

A “significant amount of police resources” were dispatched to the scene and it is reported that “numerous, clear warnings” were given by police to those in attendance.

McDonagh was served with a fixed-penalty-notice some time after the incident occurred, which he did not accept because he “wasn’t sure what it was in relation to.”

His defence solicitor said that the defendant “deeply regrets”, declining to pay the notice, which was for £100.

District Judge Anne Marshall commented: “This was in February last year when we were all under restrictions again. I have photographs here of a large number of people gathering for a fight, who had been warned on numerous occasions to leave.

“He has pleaded guilty at a very early stage but not only has he wasted a lot of police time and resources by not taking his fixed penalty, he’s now wasted further time in the PPS and the Court.”

To this end, Judge Marshall imposed a fine of £200 for each of the charges, making a total fine of £400, to be paid within ten weeks.

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