Derbyshire police drop man’s £10,000 Covid fine after fireworks display held in memory of crash victim
Derbyshire police have scrapped a £10,000 fine which was issued to a grieving young man who attended a fireworks display in memory of his friend.
Hundreds of people turned out for the display near Shirebrook Leisure Centre on the evening of April 5 to honour 22-year-old Tyrone Forde, who lost his life in the crash on the M1.
Derbyshire Constabulary claimed Connor Wilton had broken coronavirus regulations by organising a large gathering of people – but the 24-year-old said he was not behind the event.
After reviewing the evidence, officers have decided not to take further action.
Connor – who could not afford to pay the fine so could have ended up being prosecuted and with a criminal record – said the matter had affected his mental health for nearly six months.
“I’m just relieved the £10,000 fine has now been lifted – it’s a massive weight off my shoulders,” said Connor, of Shirebrook.
“I was grieving after Tyrone’s death and this fine was making me feel more and more depressed the more I worried about it.”
At the time of the fireworks display, police had powers to issue £10,000 fixed penalty notices to individuals who organised gatherings of 30 people or more.
Connor, who had been in bed when police came knocking, said: “They came to my house in force, they sat me down – three or four of them – and read me this letter out while I was literally naked.
“They said I’d got a £10,000 fine for organising the event and I said 'what the hell? I’ve not done that’.”
Cops claimed Connor had ‘placed messages on social media encouraging people to attend the event’ and this meant he organised the display.
He accepted sharing details on social media but pointed out that many other people had done the same thing.
“There was at least 200 people there and they picked out me,” he added.
“Not one fine was issued to anyone apart from me."
Ebony Cheeseman, who is friends with Connor, branded the fine a ‘joke’ when it was issued.
Connor has now received a letter from Derbyshire Constabulary saying: “The issuing force have reviewed the evidence in relation to this fixed penalty notice and have subsequently made the decision to take no further action.”
A force spokesperson said this week: “Derbyshire Constabulary thoroughly review all coronavirus prosecutions to ensure they are evidentially sound, fair, proportionate and in the public interest before the matter is taken to court.
“Throughout the pandemic we have used appropriate legislation when required to protect the public and control the spread of the virus.”
Tyrone, who had links to Shirebrook, died when the white Volkswagen Golf he was travelling in left the M1, crashed into a barrier and trees before overturning and landing on its roof just north of Sheffield in April.
Connor paid tribute to the young father, describing him as a ‘lovely boy’.
"He’s left a big hole in a lot of people's hearts,” he said.
“He’s very much missed.”