Fuming mum faces £10k fine for balloon release in memory of dead father-in-law

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A livid woman is facing a criminal charge and a whopping £10,000 fine for releasing balloons for her dead father-in-law.

Vicki Hutchinson, 34, is still in mourning after the sudden and tragic death of former miner Ian Stephenson.

The 58-year-old passed away in November after contracting coronavirus.

It prompted his family and friends to gather outside to release balloons in his memory – but more heartache was ahead, TeessideLive report.

The mum from Peterlee, County Durham, was shocked to learn she is now being charged with breaching lockdown regulations.

She must appear in court and branded the charge "absolutely disgusting".

The woman, whose partner James, 30, is Mr Stephenson's son, received a letter this week explaining she has been charged.

She must now appear at Peterlee Magistrates' Court next month.

She is accused of holding a gathering of more than 30 people in a tier four area on November 14 – when a national lockdown was in place.

The maximum fine for the offence is £10,000, but defiant mum-of-three Vicki has said "I'm not paying anything."

She told the website: "I understand we were in tier four but to hit a family who have just lost their father, how are you expecting families to pay these sort of fines?

"I asked people to social distance and wear a mask, I thought if everybody was distanced I didn't see what the problem would be. They fill supermarkets up.

"I thought with it being outside there was lots of social distancing on a massive field at St Mary's Church.

"I'm not paying anything. There's lots of people out there struggling, businesses have been locked down left, right and centre, James has lost his dad and you want to take £10,000 off people.

"I think it's absolutely horrendous."

She plans to plead not guilty and said she believes the fine doesn't make sense, citing how "thousands of people" lined the streets for her father-in-law's funeral days later.

Peterlee Magistrates' Court confirmed Ms Hutchinson is listed to appear in court next month.

Durham Police has been contacted for comment.

  • Family
  • Coronavirus

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