Two plead guilty over Covid house party offences

Two people are facing fines after pleading guilty to offences involving house parties which breached Covid-19 regulations.

Aidan McAlister, 28, pleaded guilty to attending a party contrary to restrictions at Chapel House, Mounthooly Street, Lerwick on 22nd November.

In a separate hearing, Ashley Robertson, 24, admitted holding a gathering at her home in Burgh Road, Lerwick, on 15th November last year.

Both cases were heard today (Wednesday) at Lerwick Sheriff Court.

The court heard McAlister, of Grodians, Lerwick, had refused to pay the fixed penalty notice when police attended the party following noise complaints.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said officers arrived at the flat in Chapel House to discover 17 people in attendance.

“It’s fair to say the police were met with a fair degree of hostility,” he said.

Officers first tried to educate the party-goers “but were met with argument”,” Mr Mackenzie said.

Having refused to pay the fixed penalty notice, McAlister was charged with the offence, resulting in the court hearing.

Mr Allan explained his client was grieving the recent loss of his father at the time of the gathering.

He and his brother had also been presented with the £2,000 cost of their father’s cremation.

Mr Allan said he suspected his client’s attitude with the police was due to his financial circumstances.

He also said McAlister did not usually drink and was normally more sensible.

“By the next day, by the time he had sobered up, if he had been offered the fixed penalty notice he would have paid it,” he said.

Mr Allan asked the sheriff to consider the fact his client had already faced legal costs and suggested the fine could therefore be dealt with in a similar manner to a fixed penalty notice.

Sheriff Iain Cruickshank said that given the explanation, he would defer sentencing until McAlister was due back in court for a separate matter on 18th August, to see whether he continued to abide by the rules.

In the separate case, Mr Mackenzie told the court police attended Robertson’s house at 1.20am in response to complaints.

Seven people from six households were at the gathering, in breach of regulations.

Mr Mackenzie said Robertson co-operated with police and was apologetic for the breach.

Mr Allan said his client had been out earlier in the evening with one other person at a local pub, which was permitted under the regulations at the time.

While walking home, he said she met several other people outside another pub, whom she allowed into her home.

Mr Allan said it was a “spur of the moment” decision rather than a planned event.

He said Robertson held a respectable job and had never been in trouble before – and that the shame of breaching the regulations had affected her health.

As the householder hosting the party, she was unable to deal with the matter by paying a fixed penalty notice.

Sheriff Cruickshank instead fined Robertson £200, to be paid within one month.

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