Grieving mum faces £10,000 fine following balloon release in memory of father-in-law who died of covid

A mum from Peterlee says she is refusing to pay a £10,000 fine for a balloon release following the death of her father-in-law which she “thought was right at the time” to uplift grieving family members.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 4:45 pm
Vicki Hutchinson refuses to pay a fine of £10,000 after holding a balloon release for her father in law Ian, (Pictured with his granddaughter Amara).

Vicki Hutchinson, 34, is due to appear in court charged with a £10,000 fine for breaching lockdown regulations after a balloon release was held following the death of her father-in-law.

The mum-of-three says she feels the fine is “unfair” in comparison to other covid breaches across the UK, adding that she isn’t a “celebrity who can pay this sort of money.”

Vicki’s father in law Ian Stephenson, 58, sadly died of coronavirus four days before his birthday in November last year and a balloon release event was organised by Ms Hutchinson for initially just family members.

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Vicki in her cafe with her business partner Corey.

The 34-year-old received a legal letter earlier this week accusing her of holding a gathering of more than 30 people in a tier four area on November 14 and explained she has been charged to appear at Peterlee Magistrates' Court next month.

The business owner says she refuses to pay the fine as the family already “lost everything” when her father-in-law passed away.

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She said: “I’m a normal person who works to look after my family – I’m not paying anything because it’s not fair.

"I wanted to hold the balloon release to make family members happy after Ian died, I did what I thought was right at the time and we can’t be hurt anymore than we already have been.”

The cafe and sunbed salon owner says she consciously bought bio-degradable balloons and cleared the area following the release as she has always tried to be environmentally friendly after working in a recycling centre in the past.

She added: “Everyone was socially distant in the open air and most were wearing masks, I did everything to make sure everyone was safe – We of all people know how covid can take somebody’s life so quickly.”

Ms Hutchinson insists that the family don’t want any fundraising pages set up in aid of the fine.

She said: “Ian was a very well liked man in the community, he was one of kind and I couldn’t help people turning up – We were all grieving so I will not pay this fine.”

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