A broken TV, hunting for “fit fellas” and a house “full of smackheads” were just some of the excuses Merseyside residents gave for breaking lockdown last year that landed them in court.

While most lockdown breaches were dealt with using on-the-sport fines, 31 people managed to end up in court for breaking the rules.

Their cases were dealt with in behind-closed-doors hearings where a magistrate decided their guilt and their punishment based only on written evidence.

Now the courts have released this evidence to the ECHO, we have had a look at five of the more inventive excuses people gave for being outside their homes.

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A broken TV

James Foster, then 25, was found in a house in Hargreaves Street, St Helens, just after midday on March 31, 2020 where he had been drinking all night with two others despite living some two miles away at the YMCA on North Road.

When the police arrived at the house he initially jumped over the back fence and ran off, but then came back to get his hat.

According to the officer that spoke to him, PC Lee Moses, Foster admitted drinking in the house since the early hours and PC Moses told him he should go back to the YMCA to prevent Covid-19 spreading through the community.

But in reply, Foster said he didn’t want to go back to the YMCA “as the volume was broken on his Freeview”.

PC Moses said in his statement: “He said that he had heard of coronavirus but would continue to go out and party.

“It was clear to me that Foster was not going to comply with any instruction that I gave him. He was adamant that he did not want to go back to the YMCA where he lived due to the issues with his Freeview.

“I explained that he could be issued with a fixed penalty and have to pay a fine and he said that he wasn’t bothered and would just not pay it and would go out when he wanted.”

Foster was given a fixed penalty notice for £30 and taken home, where he told police: “I’ll still go out but I’m having cheesy chips first.”

But rather than having to pay just the £30, Foster appears to have ignored the fine and ended up in court where he was ordered to pay a £60 fine plus £100 in costs and a £32 surcharge for victim services - a total of £192.

Chris covers local government and politics for the ECHO, focusing on Knowsley and Sefton.

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House ‘full of smackheads’

22-year-old Natalie Smith, of Anfield Road, was found sitting on the pavement in the city centre with four other people, surrounded by rubbish, on April 21, 2020 and told police she was “just chilling”.

Police told her to go home, and Smith began to collect up her belongings, but 90 minutes later she was found outside again by the same police officer, sitting next to a cash point in Bold Street.

The officer, PC Buckley, asked Smith why she had not gone home, to which she replied: “I can’t be f***ing arsed with it, it’s full of smackheads.”

Her refusal to go home ended up costing her £339, including a fine of £220, £85 in costs and £34 towards victim services.

‘Playing Pokemon Go’

Stuart Keen, then 34, told police he was playing Pokemon Go with a friend when he was found by police on Church Street on April 22, 2020.

It was not the first time Keen had been warned about breaking lockdown, but even so the police just told him to go home and he said he would.

But four hours later he was again found by the same officers lying in a doorway in Houghton Street with two other men but claimed he was exercising.

In a witness statement, PC Byrne said: “I have stopped and spoken to Keen and asked him what he was doing and he said he was out exercising after picking up his methadone.

“Keen was clearly lying down on the floor and not exercising and due to the late time he had not been for his methadone.”

Keen, of Vauxhall Road, was reported to court and fined £220 plus £85 in costs and a £34 surcharge for victim services - a total of £339.

280 miles to give a friend ‘a lift’

Jamie Anderson-Slight was a long way from home when he was stopped driving his horse box along Everton Brow by PC Jenna Whitfield in the early hours of May 6, 2020.

A check of his registration number revealed that his vehicle was registered not in Liverpool but in Hove, East Sussex, some 280 miles away.

When PC Whitfield asked him what he was doing out, the then 46-year-old said he had driven up from Hove to give his friend, 20-year-old Dillon Cain, who was sitting in the passenger seat, a lift.

PC Whitfield said: “I asked what this ‘lift’ was in relation to in order to establish if there was any urgency, medical need etc and whether it was an essential journey to travel 280 miles up the country.

“Anderston-Slight was acting very nervously, he was stuttering and just said that he had given his friend a lift because he’d asked him to.”

She added: “I felt that Anderson-Slight did not see the severity of the matter and thought he was doing nothing wrong. I told him that from what he has told me, his journey of 280 miles was not necessary.”

Anderson-Slight’s long-distance lift ended up costing him £354, including a £220 fine, £100 in costs and £34 towards victim services once a magistrate convicted him of breaking lockdown laws.

Hunting for ‘fit fellas’

Louise Whelan, of Rankin Street, Poulton, initially claimed she had been dropping her niece off and had been to the shops when she was stopped by police in Birkenhead on May 4.

However, further enquiries by the police officer, PC David Cullen, revealed the then 29-year-old had in fact been over to Liverpool.

In a witness statement provided to the court, PC Cullen said: “I asked her why they had been to Liverpool to which she stated: ‘I was just trying to see some fella’.

“I pointed out to her that this was not a valid reason to be out to which she replied: ‘I wasn’t even going shopping that was a lie.’”

After hearing Whelan’s excuse, PC Cullen told her that he would be reporting her for breaching the Covid restrictions, to which she replied “OK”.

In a private hearing, magistrate Gordon Roberts found Whelan guilty of leaving her residence without reasonable excuse during the emergency period and fined her £220.

Mr Roberts also ordered her to pay £85 in costs and £34 as a surcharge for victims’ services, bringing her total fine to £339.