An award-winning curry restaurant was caught hosting a huge wedding party at the peak of lockdown after covering the windows with paper.

Police attended the venue in Egerton and found more than 60 people enjoying a wedding meal, a court heard.

Shek Farsi Ahmed Shah, the owner of Hot Chilli, said he believed the party on February 21 was within lockdown rules because it was a wedding with 30 guests.

But police saw more than double that number in attendance at the venue - just a week before the wedding had taken place 800 people had died from Covid-19 across the UK in a single day.

READ MORE: 'Good Samaritan' raped woman out celebrating end of lockdown

Shah has now been sentenced at Bolton Magistrates Court.

PC Andrew Hopwood had gone into the restaurant at 3.15pm through an open door and found dozens of guests sat down inside and joyful decorations.

Prosecutor Hamza Soren told the court: "He witnessed approximately 50 guests present. The guests appeared to be having a sit-down meal.

"Decorations were on each table, there were 'Mr and Mrs' gift boxes and there were floral decorations around the restaurant.

"Guests were in formal attire. Females were wearing expensive-looking, traditional Asian gowns.

"It was clear that there was an organised, formal event taking place."

Shah accepted in court he was responsible as owner of the restaurant
Shah accepted in court he was responsible as owner of the restaurant

The court heard that at this point PC Hopwood was approached by Shah, who confirmed he was the owner and claimed the event did not breach Covid rules.

Mr Soren said: "(Shah's) response was that he thought he was allowed 30 people to attend as it was a wedding.

"(PC Hopwood) explained that by allowing guests to have a sit-down meal he had breached the restrictions."

Mr Soren said the officer was then informed that there were more guests in the downstairs area of the restaurant.

Downstairs, PC Hopwood also found a wedding cake on the table, along with wedding favours and drinks bottles that had the same names on as the couple who were married.

"In total it was estimated there were 65 people present including children under 18," Mr Soren added.

"There were 10 staff members on duty, either cooking in the kitchen or serving food."

Bolton Magistrates Court
Bolton Magistrates Court

Shah was handed a £200 fixed penalty notice, while 37 guests were also slapped with fines.

Mr Soren added: "The defendant's behaviour was crass and irresponsible given the circumstances about the spread of Covid.

"He says he has admitted breaching the legislation. Despite that, for reasons known only to himself, he decided to arrange this wedding with young children and adults present.

"We can only speculate whether there were any infections as a result of that, but the legislation applied to everyone.

"It was there for a reason and the actions of the defendant were inexcusable and irresponsible."

Shah, of Blackburn Road, told magistrates there were a 'number of things that were not accurate' in Bolton Council's account of proceedings.

Download the LancsLive app for free on iPhone here and Android here.

Have you got news for us? Contact our newsdesk on [email protected].

Get all the latest news, sport and what's on stories sent to your inbox daily with the LancsLive newsletter here.