No one knows why Marie Dinou was “loitering between platforms” at Newcastle Central railway station on Saturday morning. She did not tell the police who questioned her, the lawyer who saw her in custody, or the court that found her guilty of an offence under new coronavirus laws. The 41-year-old is not believed to have spoken a word between the moment of her arrest and the moment she was fined £660 in the first known case of its kind.
Her conviction is to be quashed after police admitted that the wrong law was used to prosecute her, and the case “shouldn’t have happened”. The Independent has learned that Ms Dinou was not even in the courtroom when a judge found the offence proven after reading statements from British Transport Police (BTP) on Monday.
She was in the cells of North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court as punishment for refusing to give her name and address, after spending two days in police custody. Ms Dinou is not known to have undergone a mental health assessment, and a nurse was not present at court because of coronavirus. “Defendant refuses to identify herself, sent back to cells and proved in absence,” read a short official account of the hearing. Ms Dinou was convicted of committing an offence under Schedule 21 of the Coronavirus Act 2020.
Despite having no record of her income or means, the judge fined her £660 and ordered her to pay a £66 victim surcharge and £85 in costs. The indictment said Ms Dinou had “failed to provide BTP officers with [her] identity or reasons for [her] journey”, and “failed to comply with a requirement” under the new law.
Read more: Lizzie Dearden, Independent, https://is.gd/5y4niF