Woman fined for unlawful trading at her rural home

A woman whose catering business was badly impacted, according to a defence lawyer, when events were cancelled during the first covid lockdown last year, then placed mobile vans at her home which amounted to unauthorised trading.

Jane Louise Manders (40), of Shankbridge Road, Kells, came to the attention of council officials between April 12-22, 2020, and has pleaded guilty to engaging in ‘street trading without being the holder of a street trading licence’.

A prosecutor said Mid & East Antrim Borough Council investigated the presence of two catering vans operating at Shankbridge Road.

Police saw customers present at two catering vans on April 12.

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The court heard there were Facebook posts showing opening hours and a menu.

The Council wrote to the defendant on two occasions requesting trading to stop. When cautioned on April 15, bodycam showed Manders saying: “I am not accepting it. I am not accepting anything you are giving me and I am not going to stop’.

Defence barrister Stephen Law said the defendant had a trading licence in the past. He said Manders and her husband’s main line of business had been outdoor catering “but when Covid occured obviously all events were shut down”. The lawyer said that had been the “sole income” and it was then decided to place the mobile vans “outside of their home address”. He said the vans were within a ten metre distance of a public road. Mr Law said the vans were “off the road but they were doing deliveries from it and people were coming up and taking takeaways as well”.

When the authorities noticed it was within the “parameters” of the public road the Council told Manders to halt and “they subsequently did stop and in fact they are now on benefits and their home is being repossessed”. He added: “They have no income whatsoever because the pandemic obviously has impacted them greatly because they can’t provide outdoor catering”. Mr Law said the defendant had thought she could have the vans in her “front driveway but it abutted onto the side road which then fell within the legislation and because of the traffic that was going up and down a side road that attracted curiosity and concern”. The barrister said Manders is in a “dire financial situation” and the mother-of-three and her husband were “out of work” and were “going to lose their home”.

District Judge Nigel Broderick asked why the defendant was no longer “trading properly”.

Mr Law said there was a “foreclosure” application on “the business” and the defendant had “other legal difficulties in respect of repossession of property and a van,” whilst an application for an injunction to prevent the foreclosure had been refused.

A prosecutor said the catering vans had been parked in a “hazardous position”.

Manders was fined £500.

The defendant is also charged with making a threat to kill a Sunday newspaper journalist and sending a ‘menacing’ message by a public communications network on May 13 this year. That case was adjourned to September 23.