Manchester UK: Owners of Covid-breach café brought to court following repeated law-breaking ?

The husband-and-wife owners of a café which once hosted nearly 30 customers during lockdown and repeatedly flouted Covid-19 restrictions have found themselves in Court charged with further offences.

Kate and Luc Café, in Burnage, was closed by the Council for three months in February 2021 and subsequently had its alcohol licence stripped following numerous and repeated complaints.

They were found to have continued trading during lockdown and refusing to take protective measures that were, at the time, required by businesses in order to keep members of the public safe.

On January 18, 2021, the Council’s Licensing and Out of Hours Team responded to a report from Greater Manchester Police that the premises was failing to follow restrictions which were in place at the time under Coronavirus Regulations.

At a visit on January 28, a Council officer attended the premises to investigate the complaint, during which one of the defendants, Lucjan Domanski, claimed that Covid-19 was “Nazi government propaganda.”

On 30 January, 2021 the Council issued an improvement notice on the Café and its directors, requiring compliance with the Coronavirus Regulations.

However, clear disregard was shown towards this Improvement Notice, resulting in three Fixed Penalty Notices being served against the premises. In total, £7,000 of FPNs were accrued by the owners.

Following the instigation of criminal proceedings by the Licensing and Out of Hours Team, the owners of the café Lucjan Domanski, 39, of Chapel Street, Levenshulme, and Katarzyna Korzewnikow-Domanska, 46, of Buxton Road, Stockport, appeared before Manchester Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, July 7 2022. The café itself was the third defendant.

At the hearing, an individual purporting to be “in contract” with the defendants cited antiquated legislation (the Monopolies Act, 1662) as part of an argument that they could address the court, despite not being qualified to do so. The District Judge did not permit the person to represent the defendants at trial, at which point, they, and the defendants walked out of the court.

The trial proceeded in the absence of the three defendants who were each found guilty in absentia for 4 counts of failing to comply with an Improvement Notice.

Each offence attracted a £1,000 fine bringing the total to £12,000

They were also ordered to pay costs of £4,999, apportioned out at £1,666 each.

Councillor Lee-Ann Igbon, Executive Member for Vibrant Neighbourhoods said: “After such flagrant and repeated breaches of the law during the height of lockdown I am incredibly pleased to see that justice has been served. I am grateful for the efforts of our officers and legal representatives for pursuing this case to its conclusion.

“Covid has had such a devastating impact on Manchester and it was truly disheartening to see that during such a critical period this premises refused to take precautions that so many others were taking.

“The Council was and remains committed to doing everything in our power to protect the lives of our residents and I hope this sentence sends a clear message of that intent.”