Saturday 12 November 2022

Briton sentenced to 6 months behind bars for selling mince pies during COVID lockdown

  A British man was sentenced to six months behind bars for selling mince pies and wine during the stringent Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown in the United Kingdom.

According to the BBC, 72-year-old Maurice Snelling was accused of breaking Tier 3 restrictions at the Cloudside Shooting Grounds located in the town of Congleton in Cheshire, England. Snelling, who sold food items at the venue, argued that his business was located in Cheshire – which was under less stringent Tier 2 restrictions.

Tier 3 restrictions only allow takeaways or drive-throughs, while Tier 2 restrictions permit customers to consume alcohol “if accompanied by a substantial meal.” Snelling argued that since his business had a Cheshire postcode, the more relaxed guidelines applied to it. However, Circuit Judge David Fletcher ruled that the shooting grounds are located in Staffordshire – which was under Tier 3 guidelines at that time.

The judge rejected Snelling’s argument, claiming that the accused had lived in the area for three decades. “I find it hard to believe that Snelling didn’t know which lockdown tier he was in,” Fletcher remarked.

Aside from breaching lockdown rules, Snelling was also accused of refusing to cooperate with law enforcement. Prosecutors alleged that the business owner did not respond to requests by police officers to review CCTV footage.  

Moreover, Snelling reportedly got in touch with the venue’s CCTV contractor Welch Services. He commanded the firm in an “angry and demanding” tone to remove the CCTV’s hard drive from the system.


The company felt uncomfortable and instead turned over a copy of the hard drive to law enforcement, adding that the accused might claim a lead had damaged the footage.

Fletcher justified the prison sentence he issued to Snelling, given that the latter’s offense “strikes at the heart of justice.” The judge continued that the business owner “is anti-establishment, especially to the police. He doesn’t like being told what to do, [and] he treated police with resentment.”

Well-connected Britons avoid jailtime for lockdown breaches

While a regular businessman like Snelling was handed a jail sentence for simply selling mince pies and wine, well-connected Britons who committed the same breaches do not even get to step inside a jail cell. The double standard appears to be more blatant, however, if the accused is linked to Westminster figures.

Take astrophysicist Piers Corbyn for example. The brother of former U.K. Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was arrested in May 2020 for attending a protest in Hyde Park at the British capital, London, a clear breach of lockdown protocols at that time.

Piers was later found guilty of breaching lockdown restrictions for the protests. However, he did not face jail time like Snelling – he was even released with an absolute discharge. Judge Sam Goozee handed down the exoneration after learning that the astrophysicist had spent 12 hours in police custody following his arrest.

Another example would be the 20 individuals linked to parties thrown by former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The “bring your own booze” office parties and “wine time Fridays” in 2020 and 2021 happened amid millions in the U.K. being prohibited from doing the same, thanks to the restrictions Johnson put in place.

British law enforcement later remarked that the 20 individuals were slapped with fines and that more could face penalties later.

Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the Labor Party, blasted the revelations as “a slap to the face” to millions who followed the national COVID-19 restrictions.

“The culture is set from the very top. The buck stops with the Prime Minister, who spent months lying to the British public – which is why he has got to go,” she said.

Johnson stepped down as prime minister in September, without even having a day in court for his involvement in the Downing Street parties that violated lockdown mandates. 

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