Man fined for not wearing face mask in BP Garage

The BP Garage on New Road, Acle.

The BP Garage on New Road, Acle. - Credit: Google Maps

A Norfolk man has been fined after refusing to wear a face covering in a BP garage.

Terry Palmer had been standing in the queue at the Acle garage behind an elderly couple when an officer from the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads and Armed Policing Team entered the store after refuelling.

The 49-year-old roofer, of Chapel Yard, Stokesby, initially denied the charge of entering the store without a face covering when he appeared at Great Yarmouth Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, April 7, but changed his plea during the hearing after failing to provide proof of his medical exemption at the time.

Prosecutor Michael Devaney said: "At around 4.40pm the officer entered the store to pay and saw Palmer standing in line without a face covering and standing quite close to the elderly couple in front.

"When challenged, he said Covid was ******* and the officer began to explain the guidelines."

Palmer was served a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) following the incident, which he refused to pay, resulting in the matter being sent to court.

When asked about trial preparations, Palmer was unable to offer a defence or provide medical evidence and, after reviewing the officer's bodycam footage, changed his plea to guilty. 

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He told magistrates: "I had heard masks weren't effective and didn't have to be worn if you had an exemption.

"I could never wear a mask or have a duvet over my face because it makes me breathless and feel claustrophobic.

"I felt intimidated by being approached and like I was being harassed. It was because he was progressing with it that I felt harassed, not angry.

"If I had known back then that you can get the exemption cards then I would have, and I now do.

"At the time I thought only doctors were giving them out, but I haven't been diagnosed with anything and it wasn't until later I found out you could make them online."

Magistrates ordered Palmer to pay a £200 fine, equivalent to his unpaid notice,  as well as a £34 victim surcharge and £105 court costs.