A jobless man who kept getting too close to Tesco shoppers has become one of the first to be prosecuted under coronavirus social distancing rules.
Steven Mackie breached new guidelines ordering people to remain two metres away from each other under emergency legislation designed to prevent the further spread of coronavirus.
The first time police were called, Mackie was taken home after getting too close to queueing shoppers outside Tesco.
Police noted how he did not appear to need to do any shopping himself.
And he then returned 15 minutes later and repeated the offence, M.E.N reports.
He has now been fined £500 for repeatedly flouting social distancing rules outside the supermarket in Stalybridge, Tameside, Manchester.
The chairman of the bench blasted his "stupidity"
Mackie today apologised to magistrates, who fined him £500, and denied he had been 'quite happy to kill people'.
Mackie, 53, of Stamford Street, Stalybridge, pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health Regulations 2020.
A court heard he approached people queueing outside Tesco on Trinity Street in Stalybridge at 5.30pm on Saturday and appeared to breach guidelines urging people to stay at least two metres away from each other.
Police were on patrol at the time and 'requested him to desist', prosecutor Nick Smart told Stockport Magistrates' Court.
Mackie also 'failed to provide a reasonable excuse for being present', the court heard.
Officers transported Mackie back to his home. He banged on the walls of the van during the journey.
When he was removed from the van, he told officers he would return to the supermarket and told them: "I'll see you there."
Officers warned him to stay away and left him outside his home, only for them to see him outside Tesco in Stalybridge again at 5.45pm.
The patrol officers again saw him failing to keep two metres away from queueing shoppers and decided 'enough was enough', the prosecutor told the court.
They arrested him and took him to a nearby police station.
He was said to have told the cops who collared him: "I was six feet away according to Boris Johnson's guidelines.
"What a waste of time and public money this is. Six officers.
"Haven't you got anything better to do?"
Mackie was handed a two year and eight month jail sentence in 2011 after being convicted of arson reckless as to whether life would be endangered; and public order offences in 2004.
Kirsten Collings, defending, said the defendant did not dispute the facts of the prosecution case, although he believed he had not been doing anything wrong the first time officers confronted him.
The solicitor said he had learned a 'salutary lesson' while being held in custody for the last two days.
"He's embarrassed at his own behaviour, if I'm honest," she said.
She said her client lived alone in shared accommodation, had a 'history of mental health problems' and would be going to his GP to seek help.
"I asked him if he was sorry and he said he was," she said, accepting his crime was 'abhorrent at this time'.
Chair of the bench Neil Brettell spoke to the defendant, who was wearing a face mask in the dock and who was flanked by security officers.
He asked Mackie if could count. When he said he could, he was asked to tot up how many people were in the courtroom.
When he answered '14', the JP went on: "That's how many you have put at risk through you not behaving."
The defendant said 'I'm sorry sir'.
Mr Brettell replied: "It's a little bit late to be sorry.
"What would have happened if you had infected somebody? Nobody likes to self-isolate. Nobody likes lockdown. The majority of people understand it's going to save lives. You are quite happy in a way to kill people are you?"
The defendant answered 'no'.
Mr Brettell said he had been 'given a chance' by police, but 'ignored them'.
"I'm not allowed to send you to prison," he added.
"The law does not allow it. However, you have spent two days in custody because of your own stupidity."
Mr Brettell said the law allowed an unlimited fine, but that judicial guidelines suggested any fines should be able to be paid off within a year.
Mackie, who receives £50 per week in benefits, was fined £500 and ordered to pay £135 costs. He agreed to pay off the fine at £5 per week.
"I hope that really hurts you," said the chair of the bench.
As he was led away by dock officers, Mackie said: "I'm sorry for wasting all your time. Sorry."