Lowestoft man loses appeal against conviction for Covid lockdown breach

Ipswich Crown Court.

Kareem Khalaf lost his appeal against his conviction at Ipswich Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A Lowestoft man who breached lockdown restrictions by going for a drive has lost his appeal against the conviction.

Kareem Khalaf was stopped by police seven miles from his Lowestoft home on the A12 at Wangford after officers noticed he was speeding, Ipswich Crown Court heard on Friday, June 24.

The incident happened on January 14 last year at around 8.30pm, during the third national coronavirus lockdown.

David Tremain, prosecuting, said that when asked by an officer if he was aware of the coronavirus restrictions Khalaf said he wasn’t and told her he had “wanted a change of air".

The 27-year-old, who was living in Kirkley Cliff Road, hadn’t agreed to a fine and subsequently appeared before magistrates, where he denied being a person living in Tier 4 being outside the place he was living without leave.

He was convicted by the magistrates and fined £200 and ordered to pay £620 costs and a £34 victim surcharge.

On Friday, he appealed against the conviction at Ipswich Crown Court but a judge and two magistrates dismissed his appeal and ordered him to pay an additional £520 prosecution costs.

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Recorder Jeremy Benson said the bench wasn’t satisfied that Khalaf had a reasonable excuse to do what he did.

Giving evidence, Khalaf said  in January last year he and his partner had been living with their dog in a small flat which had problems with mould, damp and mice.

At the time he had been furloughed and had been struggling with his mental health.

Khalaf said that on the day in question his mental health had been particularly bad and he had decided to go for a drive in his car.

He said he hadn’t been up to date with the current COVID regulations and thought it was reasonable to go for a drive in his car.

“I had no intention to leave my car or to interact with anyone,” he told the court.

He had left his flat in Lowestoft at 7.15pm and had planned to drive to Southwold.

However he had turned back at Reydon and was driving back to Lowestoft when he was stop by police.

He said he had told the officer he had wanted “a change of air” because he had been reluctant to go into details about his mental health which he regarded as a private matter.