Anorak News | Marie Dinou: Woman arrested and fined under coronavirus laws for committing no crime

Marie Dinou: Woman arrested and fined under coronavirus laws for committing no crime

by | 4th, April 2020

When police approached Marie Dinou, 41, and asked her why she was at Newcastle Central Station “loitering between platforms” she didn’t want to speak with them. They wanted her name, address and reasons for travel. She was not obliged to tell them anything. But the police do not listen. They tell. So they arrested her and carted her off to the station.

Charged with an offence under the Coronavirus Act 2020, meant to deal with “potentially infectious persons”, a non-infected Marie Dinou was summoned to appear at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court. She refused to leave her cell, where she’d been held for 48 hours. A district judge thought it legal, fair and proper to fine Dinou £660 and order her to pay a £66 victim surcharge and £85 in costs. “Defendant refuses to identify herself, sent back to cells and proved in absence,” runs the ruling.

“Officers 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,” says a spokesperson for British Transport Police. “Having explored all options, Dinou was arrested on suspicion of breaching the restrictions imposed under the Coronavirus Act 2020.”

Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan chimed: “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.”

Dinou. Not Ms Dinou. Respect is a two-way street. But the law is clear.

British Transport Police (BTP) now realise they made an error. In cahoots with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) they “established that Marie Dinou was charged under the incorrect section of the Coronavirus Act 2020”. In other words: she was doing nothing wrong, had done nothing wrong but was nicked, judged and fined. “Having reassessed the matter, BTP will not pursue any alternative prosecution,” a spokesperson tells the Indy.

Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock goes on the record: “There will be understandable concern that our interpretation of this new legislation has r esulted in an ineffective prosecution.This was in circumstances where officers were properly dealing with someone who was behaving suspiciously in the station, and who staff believed to be travelling without a valid ticket. Officers were rightfully challenging her unnecessary travel. Regardless, we fully accept that this shouldn’t have happened and we apologise. It is highly unusual that a case can pass through a number of controls in the criminal justice process and fail in this way.”

“Regardless…” Marie Dinou committed no offence. The police nicked her for a crime that does not exist. But “regardless…” says the copper. Carry on regardless…

Posted: 4th, April 2020 | In: News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink