Wantage woman who was ‘passed out’ broke coronavirus rules

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A covid rule-breaking woman was passed out drunk on her sofa while party crashers sang karaoke into ‘Hoover nozzle’, a court heard.

Ella Trafford, now 22, denied taking part in a gathering at her home near Wantage in February 2021 in breach of coronavirus restrictions then in force.

She claimed to have been asleep and unaware that the men, who had been moved on when police broke-up a party at the semi-detached home hours earlier, had returned to the property.

The magistrates, however, found against her. Chairman of the bench Thomas Peterson said: “We have come to the conclusion that the state that the defendant found herself in was self-induced intoxication and we are of the view that that does not provide her with a reasonable excuse. As a consequence we find her guilty.”

The regulations under which Trafford was prosecuted were lifted a month after her house party.

Since she was issued with a fine, politicians, their advisers and civil servants have found themselves in trouble for lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street and Whitehall. The Prime Minister and former Chancellor were among those fined.

Trafford herself referred to that, noting in court: “Boris Johnson had a party, didn’t he?”

The magistrates heard that police were called to then 20-year-old Trafford’s home in Windmill Place, East Challow, at around 3.30am on February 21 last year following reports of loud noise coming from the house. The country was in lockdown at the time and restrictions banned indoor gatherings of two or more people.

PC Jamie Gosling told the court that Trafford, another woman and a man answered the door and they could hear others in the property. By the time his colleagues had managed to get all the partygoers to leave he had seen ‘about eight’ people, who were said to have come from Wantage, Abingdon and Oxford.

“When [we were] getting people to leave, [Trafford] was telling people to come back,” the officer said. She allegedly said she would get a taxi with the others and ‘go to their house instead’.

The departing partygoers and the defendant were warned that if they returned they would be issued with tickets fining them for breaching the lockdown regulations.

Mr Gosling said Trafford ‘told us she didn’t care and she said have we got nothing better to do than be there dealing with that’. She was told to lock the door behind the officers.

But the police were then called back to the property at around 5.30am after a report of more noise. Mr Gosling said he could see through the window that Trafford was lying on the sofa as ‘three males sung into a Hoover nozzle while playing music very loudly on the TV’. He could not see whether or not she was asleep.

Another officer, PC Rebecca Ireland, said Trafford was lying on her front when she found her in the living room.

Eventually the constable managed to ‘rouse her’ and in response to being told she would be fined for breaching covid rules ‘gave me a thumbs up’.

As Ms Ireland left the house, the defendant apparently asked her to ‘put the heating on’. Prosecutor Richard Atkins asked whether she had. “I didn’t put the heating on, no,” she replied.

Speaking in her own defence, Trafford said she and a female friend, who was staying with her ‘for that month’, began drinking at around 6pm to 7pm that evening. The friend invited her own friends to the house, ‘a couple’ of whom the defendant knew.

By the time the police arrived, she was ‘quite drunk’. When they left she went inside and ‘passed out on the sofa’. “The next morning my house was completely trashed. I’ve got video of it somewhere, where they’ve come back and trashed it.”

She said she had no memory of the police attending for the second time.

Trafford, now of Thames View, Abingdon, was found guilty of participating in a gathering of two or more people in a Tier Four area. She was sentenced to a three-month conditional discharge and must pay a £22 victim surcharge.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire’s court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward