Tony attended Hereford magistrates court on 4th, 5th & 6th March 2008 to fight his corner concerning smoking related prosecution from Hereford council. presiding was District Judge, Bruce Morris. A surprise there as normally it would simply be a humble magistrate with two lackeys for support!
Tony was charged with allowing two people to smoke on the premises and also with enjoying a fag himself-well, it was his property after all!
The net result was that Tony was fined a total of £1,075 and ordered to pay costs of £10,807 –
No matter what defence was put forward-it was ignored.
The covert operation was described in great detail-excepting rather pertinent matters of concern! For instance, as the EHO’s sat in a group of four round a table which to be fair (as described) did give as wide a view of the interior of the pub as possible, they drank 5 pints of strong lager during their stay. One of them employed a mobile phone but could not state at what time ‘a smoker’ smoked. Nor could they produce any photographic evidence of ‘a smoker’ smoking! Nor did they know at exactly what time they vacated the Dog Inn with all this incriminating evidence.
The question was raised that drinking 5 pints of strong lager (AROUND 17 UNITS) would have severely impaired the thinking, eyesight, capabilities as, had they been stopped by police and breathalysed there could have only been one result-over the limit, thus prosecution. The District Judge dismissed this as rubbish and the fact that it had nothing to do with the case. Now what would District Judge Bruce Morris have said if it had been a driver standing before him having driven after 5 pints of strong lager?
The Dog Inn has a dog legged (excuse the pun) shape to it whereby about 35% of the interior cannot be seen from the bar area, thus if a smoker decides to stand in the doorway to puff away nobody serving beer can possibly see the heinous crime taking place. The EHO’s, sat where they were sitting had ample view of this activity-but then the question arises, did Tony Blows know that this fool was actually standing in the doorway and not outside the doorway?
The simple answer is NO, he could not have possibly known for there was a brick wall between him and the smoker/doorway.(check the defence here)
On the 2nd charge of allowing smoking in a smokefree place, Tony’s perfect defence was simply that as he was the pub chef he was busy in the kitchen preparing meals for his eating customers. This meant he had absolutely no opportunity to see a smoker actually smoking for the simple reason that there were now two brick walls between him and the offender. So, how could Tony possibly warn the smoker if he was not aware of him/her smoking?
Again this was dismissed as irrelevant by District Judge Bruce Morris.The edict of the court was blatantly obvious ( and the truth has now surfaced via the Internet)…you smoke, therefore you are automatically guilty of an the offence- a defence is irrelevant.
The prosecuting counsel, though ruffled at times had Bruce (Morris)Morgan to bail him out every single time (so much for impartiality!!) and it was really Tony’s persistence that bumped the costs up so much.
Having unearthed the Lacors guidelines to prosecuting licensees,it actually states that –
It must be taken into account that the licensee is an objector to the smoking ban.
In plain language –
despite having a valid, correct and legally enforceable defence (as detailed in the Health Act 2006), if you object to the ban – then the defence afforded by the Act are to be ignored. (this is both Illegal and Unlawful).
Costs:- (back to top)
the costs were so high because the case took 3 days to ease through the various hilarities of actions and reactions.
As stated, the prosecuting counsel, though ruffled at times had Bruce Morris to bail him out every single time and it was really Tony’s persistence that bumped the costs up so much. The farcical thing is that the EHO’s even claimed expenses for getting semi pissed and producing no concrete (indisputable) evidence upon which a case could be based-merely their observations under the influence of drink!
Needless to say, every word they spoke was lapped up by the bench and it was blatantly obvious that a resounding guilty verdict was the only verdict that would be forthcoming.
As is well touted now, Tony went to the High Court to claim a reduction in the costs only to be told that had he not asked so many irrelevant questions the case would not have dragged on so long thus costs would have been considerably less. (this is called a “Defence”)
And then they hit him with another £5K in costs for that effort. Sheer proof that the legal system is prepared to be corrupt itself in the pursuit of the new “cash-cow”-smokers!