A woman arrested by police for breaking a new coronavirus law has been fined £650 by magistrates.
According to police, Marie Dinou, 41, refused to explain to officers her reason for essential travel when they found her on a platform at Newcastle railway station.
She was arrested for breaching the new Coronavirus Act and ticket fraud and appeared in court two days later, where she denied the offences but was found guilty of both.
Dinou, from York, was fined £85 for ticket fraud, but £650 for breaking the new COVID-19 regulations on leaving home without reasonable excuse. She was also ordered to pay £80 costs, by North Tyneside Magistrates.
British Transport Police said in a statement: “On Saturday 28 March at around 8am, officers at Newcastle Central station received a report from rail staff of a woman loitering between platforms.
“They approached Dinou and engaged with her in an attempt to understand her reasons for essential travel, but following several more attempts by officers to explain and encourage she refused to speak to officers.
“Having explored all options, Dinou was arrested on suspicion of travel fraud and breaching the restrictions imposed under the new Coronavirus Act 2020.”
Under the new law police can issue £60 on-the-spot fines to anyone leaving their home without reasonable excuse if they refuse a request to go home.
Reasonable excuses include shopping for basic needs, exercising and ‘absolutely necessary’ travel to and from work.
But police suspects can also be arrested and charged with breaking the new laws brought in last month in the wake of the pandemic.
BTP’s Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan said: “While a ticket offence had also been committed in this case, enforcement of any sort under the new regulations really is a last resort, especially arrest.
“In this case, officers tried their upmost best to engage with Dinou. I can assure you we would much rather not have to take such action.”
“We strongly urge the public to do the right thing and help us save lives by staying at home and slowing the spread of the virus.”
Police previously reported the woman had been fined £650.