Covidiots: the worst Covid-19 rule-breakers in Plymouth in 2020
The vast majority of people in Devon and Cornwall have followed the rules and worked hard to combat Covid-19 since the pandemic took hold in March. Thousands of people have lost loved ones and most have been unable to see relatives as much as they would like. Others have been laid off or gone on furlough – while health and care workers have gone the extra mile to get us through it.
But there are always some who think that the rules just don’t apply to them, no matter how badly things have gone this year with coronavirus. As the second wave reaches a new peak and more restrictions are in force, Plymouth Live takes the opportunity to look back at the ‘Covidiots’ – the most selfish rule-breakers of the year.
Hundreds of drunken revellers gather for barbarity on the Barbican
Police estimate that more than 500 people gathered on the Barbican for a midweek drinking session during the first national lockdown – surely a lowpoint for Plymouth in a year of ups and down. Revellers were pictured standing closely together in large groups on the cobbles, enjoying booze bought from pubs operating a takeaway service or from their homes.
The drinking turned to debauchery with urinating in the street and having sex in public back in sunny June. Most were seemingly ignoring the two-metre distancing rule. The Barbican is in fact a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) area, which effectively bans drinking of booze outside of designated areas.
Charles Cross neighbourhood policing team highlighted just some of the mess left behind by drunken yobs in a Tweet which noted: “urine, excrement, used tampons, used condoms, broken glass, blood from crime scene, piles of rubbish” which had left residents “in tears” and the council “bleaching the streets.” Worse, there was an alleged serious assault on a 19-year-old woman and police weer pelted with coins when they went to her aid. PC Tome Pc Ottley said at the time: “Police received several dozen calls from 6pm onwards and it continued through the night with the last stragglers leaving the Barbican area at around 4am.
We had reports of people urinating and defecating in the street, people having sex in the street, littering. It was absolutely horrendous. “The smell of the Barbican this morning was human excrement.
People live in this area, people have businesses they’re trying to maintain in the face of a difficult situation as it is. What we saw and what they endured last night is appalling.” It was the culmination of several weeks of bad behaviour along the waterfront areas of Plymouth.
Police vowed to step up patrols, with some volunteering extra shifts, and the mayhem was not repeated again on such a scale. Read the full story here
From beehives to needing a break from the family – the worst excuses for travel
Thousands stayed away from Devon and Cornwall in the teeth of the first lockdown as Covid-19 cases reached their initial peak. Main roads were quiet and people did not make the long trip to the South West in April, including for the Easter weekend.
But here are some of the worst excuses heard by the police in dealing with motorists early in the pandemic.
The fishing trip
One family drove all the way from London during the night to enjoy a fishing trip in Devon. Suffice to say, this did not go down well with Devon and Cornwall Police, who kicked them out of the county and slapped them with fines. Devon and Cornwall Police Control Room Supervisor Mike Newton said the lockdown flouting family were located in Torquay in the early hours of this morning, after driving down from the capital through the night.
On Twitter, he said: “Officers locate a family from London who have driven overnight for a spot of fishing. “Escorted out of Devon, and adults issued with fines. I shall refrain from further comment.”
The boat trip
Police were also unimpressed after someone took to the roads to pick up a boat.
Yes, that’s right, a boat. They reported the driver for driving across the county to pick it up – and then breaking down on a hill. “Driving across the county (and then breaking down on a hill) to collect the second hand boat you just bought is not an essential journey either.
Driver reported near Bodmin.”
Beehives and PlayStations
MPC Brown of the Alliance Roads Policing Team was manning a motorcycle checkpoint in Cullompton recently when he stopped two people. On Twitter he revealed the excuses they gave him, saying: “Top two reasons for being out this evening: “1.
I’m taking a beehive to a field “2. I’m taking a PlayStation to my mate’s house.
“Both were sent home with strong words of advice.”
Needing a ‘break from wife and kids’
As stressful as family can be sometimes, a 170-mile road trip just to get away from them is not classed as essential. One BMW driver found that out to his cost after being stopped by officers in Cornwall. The motorist was spotted by officers on the A30 near Launceston on Easter Sunday.
Police told the driver it was not an essential journey. Officers from Alliance Roads Policing tweeted about the incident. They said: “Taking your BMW out for a spin on a 170 mile round trip to have a break from the wife and three kids is also not an essential journey!
The roads are much quieter but there are still people who don’t get it. ”
The most idiotic among a horde of vile thugs using Covid-19 as a weapon
Many vile thugs have used Covid-19 as a weapon to attack the police and other emergency workers, particularly by spitting while claiming to have the disease. But Jordan Fleming deserves a special mention for assaulting an officer as he was walking away – with the spittle dribbling down the back of his neck. Drunken Fleming, aged 22, has been jailed for attacking the constable as he walked away from him at the height of the first wave of the pandemic.
The officer was left in fear of catching the virus and cancelled visits to take food to his elderly grandmother and parents, Plymouth Crown Court heard. Homeless Fleming also flicked beer in the face of another constable and waved a piece of wood at officers who attended a 999 call at his family home in Plymstock in May. Jailing him for 13 weeks, Judge David Mousley said the spitting had “caused fear of potential infection” and “practical problems” for the officer.
He added: “I am satisfied that only an immediate sentence (of imprisonment) is appropriate, both to punish you and deter others. No disposal in the community meets that purpose.” Courts have regularly used increased sentencing powers to jail louts who have sought to use Covid-19 as a weapon since the spring.
Insp Paul Laity tweeted at the time that he was “livid” Fleming had spat at his colleague’s head after making repeated threats. Fleming, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting an emergency worker in the early hours of May 15. A statement from the officer was read at Plymouth Crown Court in November.
It said that he washed his head and neck as soon as he could back at the station. He added: “I do not expect to be spat at for doing my job, especially when I have turned away from him and I have not had any interaction with him. Spitting at someone is unacceptable.
“This has resulted in me having to cancel food deliveries to my elderly grandmother and parents as a precautionary measure because they are isolating due to health problems.” Read the full story here
Tactless conspiracy theorist leaves leaflets under the noses of Covid-19 patients
Speech may be free but you cannot put a price on tact. A Covid-19 conspiracy theorist left leaflets on cars at Derriford – where they could be seen by victims of the disease or their bereaved families.
Scaremongering sheets were left on vehicles on at least one level of Derriford Hospital’s multi-storey car park. They angered one hospital worker who was on the front line fighting the disease in November. The leaflets claim that the threat of the virus has been exaggerated as part of a plot to restrict liberties and to generate profits for drug companies making a vaccine.
The leaflets say that the thousands of deaths suffered this year, after taking into account deaths through flu and respiratory conditions, are “not serious”.
A copy of the leaflet which has been left on cars at Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital (Image: Plymouth Live/submitted)
They also say that the masks are not effective in preventing the spread of the disease – and it is all part of the “coercion plan”. But the hospital worker who found a leaflet on his car in the multi-storey called the claims “utter b*****s”. The man, who does not want to be named, said: “It looked like it was on every windscreen on that level.
“I looked at it briefly and I thought it was total rubbish and when I got home and read it properly I thought it is actually quite dangerous. “It is not just bad for the staff working on COVID wards and intensive care for example. I understand that some people are always going to think these things, especially just before a lockdown, but this could be seen by anyone, including people who have had coronavirus.
Or even families of people who have died with the disease. “It is worrying that someone with a disability might read it, someone who does not know any better.” Read the full story here
Another terrible excuse: collecting motorbikes and catching up with mates
Two men were caught by the police breaching coronavirus lockdown rules to transport motorbikes during the first national lockdown – as the first wave of cases hit their peak.
Devon and Cornwall Police pulled over the pair in a recovery truck from Hampshire in the middle of April. The duo were caught in Devon, having travelled to Plymouth for the non-essential reasons of collecting motorbikes and stopping to “reminisce” with friends at Paignton. The force’s Alliance Roads Policing unit tweeted about the incident to help drive home the message that the lockdown to prevent the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus bans any travel that is deemed non-essential.
A police car monitoring the road during lockdown
Under the restrictions in place across the UK, travel was mainly allowed for food shopping and to work if it can’t be done at home.
The incident followed reports of ridiculous reasons for travel during the lockdown being given to officers including delivering a beehive and PlayStation games console.
And some of our Covidiots went the other way
Holidaymakers from Devon were asked to go home after being stopped by police during the first lockdown – five hours away in the Lake District. They were stopped in a camper can at Windermere and asked to turn around by officers who were patrolling the roads early in April. South Lakes Police took to Twitter to raise awareness of the issue.
The tweet reads: “Camper van stopped in Windermere from the Devon area.
Devon campervan stopped in the Lake District (Image: South Lakes Police)
“Occupants given words of advice and escorted back to the M6 to go home.” Since the start of the coronavirus lockdown in March, people have been asked to only travel when necessary. This means people can only go out and use their cars to go food shopping, for health reasons or work.
Plymouth Live and our sister sites Devon Live and Cornwall Live launched a “Come Back Later” campaign urging tourists to stay away during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring.
And the woman who thought a mask would spoil her make-up
A woman was wearing a mask around her chin rather than over her nose and mouth as required in the corridors of Plymouth Crown Court in October.
Plymouth Live overheard her say it was because she did not want to spoil her make-up.
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