Hartlepool gym boss to stand trial over alleged Covid lockdown breaches

A former Mr Universe is to fight charges of breaking coronavirus lockdown restrictions at a Hartlepool gym.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 5:18 pm
Eddy Ellwood outside Teesside Magistrates Court after an earlier appearance.

Edmund Ellwood, known as Eddy, is accused of letting people into Xtreme Fitness on the town’s Longhill industrial estate despite action by Hartlepool Borough Council.

He denied four charges when he appeared at Teesside Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, November 9, after an earlier hearing was adjourned at the request of the defence.

Ellwood is charged with two counts of failing to comply with a coronavirus prohibition notice given by the council on February 2 and 7 of this year.

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Xtreme Fitness gym in Hartlepool.

He also faces two counts of contravening a direction by Hartlepool Borough Council under coronavirus restrictions on the same dates.

The charges read that he “allowed individuals to enter the aforementioned premises for purposes other than paid employment or for the essential and specific upkeep and maintenance of the premises”.

Ellwood, 57, pleaded not guilty to all four charges telling the court: “As I understand I haven’t broken any law.

"I haven’t caused any man or woman harm, suffering or loss, so therefore I plead not guilty.”

The chair of the bench gave him a statutory warning that if he later changed his plea to guilty or was found guilty after a trial then the punishment would be greater than if he had pleaded guilty that day.

He was also advised he could be ordered to pay prosecution costs totalling more than £600.

The magistrate added: “Clearly if you believe you are not guilty then you should plead not guilty.”

A trial to take place over two days on March 30 and April 1 next year was set by the court.

Ellwood was accompanied outside court by a number of anti lockdown supporters.

He has previously spoken of his objections to the closure of gyms during lockdowns saying they provide an important service for people, especially those with mental health issues.

They were allowed to reopen nationwide on May 4 as part of restrictions being eased.

Ellwood, of Blackhall, clinched the Mr Universe title five times between 1997-2001 and was England’s Strongest Man winner on three occasions between 2003 and 2005.

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