Worcestershire gift card shop owners, who refused to close during lockdown after arguing they sold the same items as WHSmith, have been fined £35,000 by magistrates, media reports stated on Thursday (19).
Alasdair Walker-Cox, 54, and wife Lydia, 50, were penalised for breaking coronavirus rules after they stayed open despite non-essential shops being told to shut.
Sentencing, the district judge Ian Strongman, said: ‘The products Mr Walker-Cox had in his shop were not those of a food retailer but those of a confectioner.”
However, the couple has claimed that they did nothing wrong because they sold essentials such as newspapers, snacks and baking products, and said they would rather go to prison than close, reports said.
Worcestershire Regulatory Services has hit them with seven separate fines after ordering them to close the doors of Grace Cards and Books in Droitwich, Worcestershire.
The couple were first fined £1,000 last November and accumulated a whopping £20,000 in penalties for keeping their shop open.
Although Walker-Cox went on trial at Kidderminster magistrates’ court to deny failing to comply with the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations, he was found guilty of the charges and slapped with £5,000 fines for each breach, totalling £35,000.
Walker-Cox told the court how they had compared their business to others like WHSmith and decided to stay open.
“We noticed WHSmith were open and we sold similar items to them so we remained open. We could increase our offerings of essential goods,” he said.
“We have lots of cake-making materials and we sold drinks before lockdown and brought a Coca-Cola refrigerator earlier this year,” the court heard, as per reports.