A teenager who was handed a £10,000 fine by police for allegedly holding a party during lockdown has had the penalty dropped by a judge.
Wiltshire Police posted on Facebook in September that they had issued the fine for the party at Isaac Parsons's house on Wick Lane, Devizes, which they said was attended by 80 to 100 people.
At the time, it was an offence to hold a gathering of more than 30 people in a private dwelling.
However, the 19-year-old’s dad Martin Parsons accused the force of “misconduct in public office and contempt of court”.
Martin Parsons, a deputy chairman of Devizes Conservative Association, said the report of the party was false information and untrue.
The family appealed the fine and district judge Joanna Dickens threw out the case at a hearing at Swindon Magistrates Court on Monday – and slammed police, saying they have “bandied” big penalties about during the pandemic.
She said: "For these £10,000 penalties, it’s a huge amount of money for people to pay and most people, who are normal people, can’t pay £10,000.
Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown
"A lot of people would want to appeal that. You would not want to appeal a £100 fine, and most people don’t appeal parking fines.
"Ultimately, it was clear to me, quite understandably, people do make mistakes, and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the mistake they are now making is to proceed.”
Dickens said the prosecution “would never have happened if it wasn’t for the fact they got it wrong in the first place”.
She added: ”It seems to me they’re seeking to get a situation where someone could be guilty, have a criminal record in circumstances where they would not have otherwise got one because it’s led by the Crown’s own mistake.”
Hitting out at the level of the fine, Dickens said “there could be a situation where other £10,000 fines have been bandied about by police in circumstances where they shouldn’t have been”.
She said it is now down to the police to decide whether to investigate other fines imposed while COVID restrictions are in place but insisted that breaking the rules was a “serious matter”.
Wiltshire Police said that while they “respected the court’s decision”, they were “surprised” by it, “relative to the circumstances that officers were presented with”.
The force added in a statement: “Further to the fine being contested, the CPS independently reviewed the available evidence and authorised a charge as is routine in such cases.”
They said that they will now be “urgently looking to understand why the case was dismissed by the court and are seeking an urgent meeting with the CPS to review this case”.
The force insisted its response to the pandemic “will continue to be robust, proportionate and consistent”.
Watch: How England will leave lockdown