Judge considers arguments in alleged Hartlepool gym Covid breaches trial

The trial of a Hartlepool gym owner accused of flouting lockdown rules has been adjourned.

Friday, 1st April 2022, 3:11 pm
Eddy Ellwood (third from left) with supporters outside Teesside Magistrates Court.
Eddy Ellwood (third from left) with supporters outside Teesside Magistrates Court.

Edmund “Eddy” Ellwood, 58, was taken to court by Hartlepool Borough Council over activity at Xtreme Fitness gym on the Longhill industrial estate during lockdown early least year.

He denies failing to comply with Covid rules on February 2 and February 7 and also contravening a prohibition notice given on January 12.

Police and a senior council officer gave evidence that they saw people exercising in the gym and leaving wearing leisure wear on several occasions.

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During the Teesside Magistrates’ Court trial, Ellwood said he was running a support group for people whose mental health was suffering and was staging a peaceful protest against Covid restrictions.

He said he would not prevent visitors using gym equipment if it helped boost their mental wellbeing.

But he denied being open for business and said people could not go there solely to exercise.

His barrister, Dr John Brown, said: “He knows people who have committed suicide due to lockdown.

"At the time Mr Ellwood was greatly concerned about this.

"He felt he had to try to help some people who were not being assisted.”

Mr Brown argued support groups and essential voluntary services were allowed under the restrictions exemptions.

The council’s barrister, Charles Holland, submitted it was not a genuine protest and said the coronavirus laws “related to the most serious public health emergency for a century”.

After hearing closing submissions from both sides on Friday, April 1, District Judge Marie Mallon adjourned making her judgement until Friday, April 8.

She said there was a lot of evidence and legal issues to consider.

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