Communities have come together to help stop the spread of Covid-19 across Devon.
But unfortunately, a small minority have let the side down by breaking the rules for their own selfish interests.
The term ‘Covidiot(s)’ was coined this year to describe “a person who annoys other people by refusing to obey the social distancing rules designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19“.
Unfortunately, many have emerged over the past few months.
Many of them were simply members of the public flouting the law, while others were committing separate crimes and were caught due to the circumstances surrounding coronavirus.
Here are a few examples of covidiots who have found themselves in trouble for failing to follow the rules.
Student party causes anger
Hundreds of students were seen ignoring Covid restrictions and partying outside some of the most expensive accommodation on the University of Exeter campus.
Campus security guards had been moving students back into their rooms in September last year.
But one student, who took photographs, said the gatherings were happening every night and as soon as security guards leave, the party begins again with 300-400 students taking part until 3am.
Some students are upset that the partying is going on despite the rule of six government law in place at the time.
The rule meant it was illegal for people in England to meet in groups of more than six, inside or outside, following a rise of COVID-19 cases.
‘Disorderly’ noise gives Exmouth quintet away
Five people were dealt with by police after gathering at a house in Exmouth, breaching Covid-19 measures.
Police officers discovered the group at a property in Exmouth on November 19 following ‘disorderly’ noise complaints.
According to police and government guidelines, the public are not allowed meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble during the national lockdown, which is set to be eased on December 2.
In a statement on their official Twitter account, Exmouth Police said: ”A busy day for all of us today.
”This morning we attended an RTC which led to one in custody for drink driving.
”This afternoon we attended an address after sounds of disorder could be heard from within.
”On arrival five males were found inside, all were dealt with for covid offences.”
Life’s a beach
Exmouth was once again the scene – this time after a mass brawl that erupted on the beach there.
All available police units were called to Exmouth beach after officers witnessed a fight.
The Devon and Cornwall Police Force Incident Manager said local neighbourhood officers were on patrol and attended the beach and on arrival, witnessed a “a large group of people fighting” just before 7pm.
Due to the large number of people on the beach, the FIM then requested that all available units in the area should help assist the incident.
One eyewitness told DevonLive that four police cars were heading towards the beach just after 8.30pm, with blue lights on.
The FIM said he then requested “every available resource” to the beach.
Footage on social media showed two police officers, apparently sent to disperse the beachgoers, being mocked.
A Snapchat video seen by DevonLive appears to show a group of young men shouting “Oggy Oggy Oggy, Oi Oi Oi” and mocking police officers, a man and a woman, instead of heeding their advice near Orcombe Point.
The beach, which has been rammed with people of all ages, has been a popular spot for locals keen to soak up the sun during the past week.
The video, which has been shared on SnapChat and Twitter, has been viewed over 4,000 times, and is “proof that restrictions should have never been eased,” one social media user said.
The video comes as dozens of locals have shared photos from the beach and say people are ignoring social distancing.
One man said people have been socialising in groups of “at least 20,” while another joked “everybody and his auntie has come to Exmouth”.
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Protest against Covid-19 measures
A rally against measures brought in to to restrict the spread of coronavirus was held outside Exeter Cathedral in October.
Protesters played music, carried signs and addressed the crowd using a megaphone to vent their frustrations at the state of affairs.
Signs with slogans such as ‘Restore Freedom’, ‘Masks are muzzles’, ‘South West Unrest’ and ‘Hey Boris, Leave Our Rights Alone’ could all be seen.
At least one speaker addressed the crowd, which numbered approximately 75, including passers-by taking an interest.
Police were there to keep an eye on things. At least four police vehicles were in the immediate vicinity, although they generally kept a low profile.
Police officers did walk through the crowd at various points.
You can see a video of the protest below:
Burglar caught after breaking lockdown rules on movement
A burglar was jailed after worried neighbours reported him to police for being out and about during the coronavirus lockdown.
Simon Rickard was seen staggering away from the house in Exeter with a can of alcohol in his hand and residents alerted the authorities to his irresponsible behaviour.
One of them was a key worker who feared he could be spreading the virus by failing to follow the strict rules which were in place back in April.
Rickard has a long history of bungled burglaries and this followed a similar pattern. His intended target was an empty house in Pennsylvania Road, Exeter.
It was being renovated, had nothing of value inside, and he left empty handed.
‘Being a thief is terrific’
A criminal who boasted on Twitter that ‘being a thief is terrific’ was jailed after he went on a lockdown crime spree.
Martyn Oliver posted a picture of his tattooed body in a gym three years ago with the message: “Loving life. Being a thief is terrific. But the trouble is they put you in jail for it.”
His prediction came true after he broke into three houses while the owners were asleep upstairs.
All his raids were during the Coronavirus lockdown and one victim was so frightened that he had contaminated her house she spent a day disinfecting it.
He stole thousands of pounds worth of goods including a retirement present watch which he was wearing when police arrested him.
He was caught because of a communal effort by people living in Barnstaple who shared CCTV on social media and helped the police identify him.
Police raided his home in a neighbouring street within hours of his last two raids and found much of the loot there.
They were just in time because he received a text while they were there which warned him that the CCTV of his raids was all over social media.
Dealers jailed as activity during lockdown arouses suspicion
A street dealer and a courier were jailed after a six-month police operation smashed a £100,000 drugs gang which brought more than a kilo of heroin and crack to Exeter.
Alan Hughes was arrested operating in a public park at the height of the Covid lockdown in March and went back into business after being released under investigation by police.
He was caught again in July when police intercepted a driver who was found with more than 1,000 wraps when he was stopped on the M5 near Cullompton.
Devon and Cornwall Police warned drivers in the first few days of the March lockdown that they will be fined if they are on the roads in breach of the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
It comes after they stopped a driver who was towing a caravan down the A38 – and another who was collecting supplies for a renovation project.
On Twitter, the police said: “Car towing caravan stopped on A38. They felt today to be the right time to move their caravan from one town to another. Apparently the instructions weren’t simple enough.
“Advised they will be fined if this continues in the coming days!”
And the officers have revealed one driver caught flouting the the lockdown has already been fined this morning after he was caught using his mobile phone while collecting supplies for a renovation project.
“Is a road trip to collect supplies for your renovation a suitable reason to go out? We didn’t think so,” said the officers.
“Driver issued a ticket also for using his mobile phone at Penn Inn, Newton Abbot.”
The officers also said they were “deployed for public reassurance and to TRY and get the message out that you should not be out unless ABSOLUTELY necessary”.
“Heed now or you will end up out of pocket and potentially in court. Please help us to help you”
Barbecues on Dartmoor
The Dartmoor National Park chief executive had to urge people to stay home to limit the spread of coronavirus and slammed ‘groups of people visiting Dartmoor for barbecues’.
The Authority reiterated its appreciation and thanks to the vast majority of people for adhering to the last four weeks of isolation and distancing.
Chief executive Kevin Bishop also praised the efforts of ‘Team Dartmoor’ for how they have responded to the crisis, but said he was saddened to hear of incidents where rangers had been subject to abuse for doing their job to protect people and Dartmoor.
Mr Bishop said: “Across the board, Authority staff have responded incredibly well to this crisis. It’s been a really big effort in challenging circumstances and I am proud of them all.
A drug dealer who travelled 250 miles across Britain during the first weekend of the Covid lockdown told police he was on a blind date.
Tolgar Bomboz and his friend Stephen Hamilton were arrested after sharp eyed residents in Exeter reported them for not socially distancing as they met a group of buyers in a park.
They were openly selling heroin and crack cocaine to a large group of waiting addicts as people who were out taking their daily exercise walked past.
They were spotted by residents whose homes overlook grassland around Taddiforde Brook which lies in a valley beneath Exeter University.
Hamilton had £850 worth of drugs bagged up and ready for sale while Bomboz had £400 from previous sales in his pocket.
He told police he was in Exeter to meet a girl who he knew through a dating app but further inquiries showed the pair had been paid £200 each to travel by public transport from Liverpool to sell drugs,
Officers from Kingsbridge Police were called on to help break up an illegal rave ahead of the second lockdown.
An un-named man took over a huge disused warehouse in Yate, in Bristol, on Saturday (October 31) and held a large unlicensed music event inside, which lasted for almost 24 hours.
He has since been fined £10,000 for organsing the event.
In a statement on Facebook, Kingsbridge Police said: ”Officers from Kingsbridge were dispatched to Bristol on Saturday night to assist with this after Avon and Somerset Officers were attacked.”
‘Stream’ of visitors to drug dealer’s house
A Newton Abbot crack dealer was jailed after neighbours complained that he was breaking the lockdown by having a stream of visitors to his home.
Cameron Knox was reported to police on April 22 by residents who were alarmed that he was not observing the coronavirus regulations.
They arrested him returning from a walk with his dog and found him with a total of 20 wraps of crack cocaine and £260 cash from recent sales. Read more here.
Bad hair day
The owner of a hair and beauty salon in Devon had to apologise for ‘stupidly’ not realising she was breaking Covid rules by booking two singers to perform at a work’s Christmas party.
Photographs shared on social media showed 10 women in their partywear singing along to two musicians during a staff Christmas party at the premises of Secrets Hair and Beauty Salon in Paignton, on Saturday, December 19.
The pictures have since been taken down and the salon has been criticised for potentially putting peoples’ lives at risk.
A concerned local resident said: “We all want life to get back to normal, but its actions like this that continue the spread and prevent lives returning to ‘normal’.”
Salon owner Joanne Cunningham assured that all those who were present at the party were members of staff, and that she now regretted their ‘stupid’ actions.
She said: “We finished work at 9pm last Saturday, and had a bit of a drink after work. I ordered a band ages ago for Christmas and I did not know we were not allowed to do that.
“It was a bit silly really that I didn’t realise and I really do apologise for that. They played for an hour for us and then left.
“When I realised what we had done I was gutted. We all work together so it was a Christmas staff party. We are not carefree with our clients or staff.”