Sheffield landlord could be about to lose his licence after he was caught serving drinkers during lockdown
Trading standards said a pub landlord who was caught serving drinkers in two different pubs during the peak of lockdown should lose his licence to serve alcohol as Sheffield Council gets set for a review.
Paul Greasby, who is the licence holder of both the Pitsmoor Hotel, on Pitsmoor Road, and the Staffordshire Arms, in Burngreave, ignored rules against operating pubs during the coronavirus pandemic.
Customers were spotted hiding in wardrobes and standing on top of the roof when South Yorkshire Police raided the sites.
After several tip-offs from the public, police said they caught them in the act at the Staffordshire Arms and served a prohibition notice before later catching them at it again in the Pitsmoor Hotel and serving an order for that to shut too.
Police said prior to the orders they spoke to Mr Greasby at 'great length' about the consequences of breaking the rules and said he 'appeared cagey and neither admitted or denied reports'.
CCTV footage also showed a new born baby was present when the rules were being broken, a representation on behalf of the Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership said the 'repeated disregard' for public health restrictions put the baby and others at risk of the virus.
South Yorkshrie Police submitted an application for the council to review Mr Greasby's licence long-term, which will take place in a meeting next week.
In the application, police officers said continuing to pull pints at the Pitsmoor Hotel after the Staffordshire Arms was served notice for breaking rules in the same way, showed: "A persistent and deliberate disregard for the regulations, public health and licensing objectives."
They added Mr Greasby was not only breaking rules by operating a pub during the peak of the pandemic but that staying open could also amount to 'encouraging an offence' under section 44 of the Serious Crimes Act 2007.
Police said: "Customers were unlikely to have a reasonable excuse for being in the pub, putting them in breach. By remaining open Mr Greasby is likely to have encouraged these breaches."
Some details of the reports were also released which said customers appeared 'intoxicated' when they were spotted leaving the site, that main breaches occured at lunchtimes, drinkers were standing on top of the roof to avoid being caught by police and on one visit by an officer Mr Greasby was found 'heavily in drink' with several used glasses on a table.
Police said as well as what they found on visits, there is also video and photographic evidence from a member of the public.
Bill Masini, trading standards officer at the council, submitted a representation to the council ahead of the review and said: "Considering the seriousness of breaches and the overall interests of the local community, trading standards recommends the premises licence be revoked."
Greg Fell, director for public health, also weighed in and said he was "extremely concerned", adding: "The pandemic of covid19 is a current critical threat to public safety. This is well publicised and I cannot believe how anyone could have any other interpretation.
"The council is clear in its position, we are following the national strategy on the response to covid19, furthermore the council has been clear that protecting public safety is of paramount concern.
“In this instance, these licensed premises should have been aware of the restrictions on opening through the representations made by officers and should have been made aware of the packages of support available to businesses and employees who may suffer hardship during this period. There is no justification in terms of lack of awareness or financial hardship for these breaches."
Previously Mr Greasby, who has had the Pitsmoor for around a year and the Staffordshire Arms for nearly eight years, said: "I would not wish to make any comment at this stage other than to say that the press reports are wildly inaccurate.
“In one instance there was no-one in the public house at all and in the other instance the only people in the public house were my son and some of his friends.
“They were upstairs in the private quarters, no money was taken for any drinks in either instance.
“Neither of these pubs were at the time open to the public.
“The full detail of what took place on these occasions will be given to the proper licensing authority in due course.”
When approached for comment following the release of the reports ahead of the meeting, Mr Greasby said he did not want to comment further.
The council's licensing committee is due to make a decision on Tuesday, June 23 at 1.30pm. The meeting will be held via an online video conference.