The owner of a Fulham bar that broke Covid rules again and again, has been required to pay nearly £26,000 after a joint investigation by trading standards and licensing teams.
Jack’s Café & Bar in Wandsworth Bridge Road was stripped of its licence in July 2020 after residents complained to Hammersmith & Fulham Council that the bar was ignoring Covid lockdown rules.
Officers from H&F repeatedly gave advice and issued warnings, and even issued a prohibition notice to the owner, Vincenzo Defeo.
Yet the investigation found Mr Defeo still breached Covid regulations on six different days in a two-week period. He also failed to update the licence holder’s address and breached licence conditions on two separate occasions. A two-day trial (27 to 28 June) at Westminster Magistrates Court found Mr Defeo guilty of the charges.
Cllr Ben Coleman, H&F’s Deputy Leader, said: “Residents can rest assured we will always crack down on rule-breaking. Other bars in the borough obeyed Covid lockdown rules despite the cost to their business.”
Mr Defeo is the sole director of the company Callow & Ruscoe Ltd which owns Jacks Café and Bar, as well as its manager. He was personally fined £5,225 plus an additional £6,750 in costs, while the company itself was fined £6,750 and £6,756 in costs.
Doug Love, investigating officer from H&F Council, said: “We would prefer to help traders understand and comply with the law. However, in this case we called upon the court to convict and punish Mr Defeo as it was clear he wasn’t listening.”
In an earlier ruling, a court backed the council’s decision to strip the bar of its licence and dismissed an appeal from the bar’s owner. The licence review was supported by the Met Police, a local residents’ association and 32 local residents.
During the pandemic, H&F officers made hundreds of visits to businesses to make sure they were protecting customers and staff. The vast majority were found to be following the rules and welcomed any advice offered by the council.
When officers found businesses flouting the rules, they issued more than 58 warning letters and more than £5,000 worth of fixed penalty notices.