Police accuse Wakefield restaurant Capri of 'blatant' lockdown breach ahead of licence hearing

Police have accused an Italian restaurant in Wakefield of a "blatant" breach of lockdown rules after they hosted an outdoor party earlier this summer.

Tuesday, 21st July 2020, 4:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st July 2020, 5:04 pm

[email protected] was given an on-the-spot £100 fine after more than 20 people were seen boozing, dancing and "partying in close proximity to each other" at the premises on May 25, which was a bank holiday Monday.

But the restaurant's owners may face further action over the incident, with Wakefield Council having been urged by police to strip Capri of its licence to sell alcohol.

The diner, which is located on Leeds Road, will learn its fate at a hearing next month.

The restaurant is located on Leeds Road, close to the Newton Hill roundabout.
The restaurant is located on Leeds Road, close to the Newton Hill roundabout.

In its account of the incident, published in papers released ahead of the hearing, West Yorkshire Police said an officer visited the premises on May 25 after the force took several calls from members of the public.

In a statement, PC Jonathan Kaye said the officer saw people "Consuming alcohol from open vessels.

"A DJ was operating and several members of staff from the premises were present serving and waiting on customers.

"The premises owner, Mohammed Karimi, was present. When spoken to by the officer Mr Karimi stated that the gathering outside had resulted from an "offer" he had advertised on Facebook which had (got) out of hand.

"He then told the officer that all the proceeds would be donated to NHS charities."

PC Kaye said that police returned to Capri the next day alongside officers from Wakefield Council.

He added: "CCTV secured by officers identified in excess of 20 persons present in the beer garden area purchasing and consuming draught beer, using the premises facilities, dancing and partying in close proximity to each other, with children present throughout most of the incident.

"Capri staff are captured giving out pizza boxes to customers.

"Police believe these to have been empty in an attempt to deceive the officer."

PC Kaye said the incident showed,"The owner and staff have carried out a blatant contravention" of lockdown restrictions, which were still in place at that time.

Two of Capri's neighbours have also joined in calls for the diner to lose its licence, with both informing the council in writing that there have been long-standing noise issues coming from the premises.

Marc Coyles said on one occasion last year he'd been unable to watch TV in his own living room, because the "volume required to overpower the noise from Capri was too loud to withstand".

He added: "Since the venue opened, on bank holidays and weekends throughout summer, they will typically play music outdoors until early hours, which can be heard within the homes of residents on Buxton Place, alongside the cackling howls of drunken clientele."

Brian Wright said: "I am an LGV driver for Warburtons and wake up at 3am to go to work.

"Obviously, for safety reasons, I need to get to sleep early and this is virtually impossible when there is loud music playing nearby until the early hours.

"There are also a number of households here with young children who need to go to bed early for school etc.

"Again this is a nuisance to them and also elderly residents."

Capri did receive one letter of support, however, from Outwood resident Suzanne Mulholland.

She argued the diner's management had been "misguided", but that the incident did not warrant them losing their licence.

She said: "The faux outrage from people commenting on social media has turned a stupid act into a huge crime against humanity.

"Please fine or scold them but do not take away their licence, there are enough business going to the wall without punitive acts unnecessarily ruining businesses and losing jobs."

A panel of three local councillors will decide what action, if any, should be taken against Capri on August 5.

Local Democracy Reporting Service