A HUSBAND and wife who were caught serving alcohol to participants of the Erne Boat Rally at their pub in Belleek until 2am have been fined in court.
James and Mary Bridgit Gormley, both 55-years-old and of Boa Island Road, Dulrush, Belleek, pleaded guilty to permitting consumption of intoxicating liqueur outside hours when they appeared before Fermanagh court.
The pair had five points endorsed on their liqueur licence and were fined £750 in total.
The married couple have owned the family run pub and restaurant, the Black Cat Cove in Belleek for the last 20 years.
A prosecutor explained to the court that on June 2, police were on patrol in Belleek when at 2.10am they spotted a number of rowdy people outside the pub.
They could see the doors to the pub were wide open, the lights were on and music was playing.
When police entered the building they saw around 80 to 90 people inside, while music was playing and people were dancing towards the back of the pub.
They could see glasses of different sizes filled with different forms of intoxicating liquid on the bar.
Officers spoke to one of the licence holders, Mr Gormley, who was behind the bar.
Owing to the fact the bar was so loud and full of people, police had difficulty speaking with the defendant.
A few days later, officers spoke to Mrs Gormley and cautioned her over the offence but she told officers she was not there and on June 17 police spoke to Mr Gormley who was cautioned over selling drink outside of trading hours.
The defendant said there was a cross-border boat rally that had landed later than anticipated and that they organised music that night and that’s why they were still serving.
The couple, who have been operating the pub for 20 years, explained that the Erne Boat Rally had pre-booked the bar.
A defence solicitor explained to the court that the participants in the boat rally had arranged to be at the restaurant for 5pm, but they arrived a number of hours late and there was a backlog in being served.
The defendant, prior to police arriving, had tried to get groups of seven people to the back of the bar to get their coats, but he said he felt they were treating his bar like a living room and he very much regretted the incident.
“The number of people overwhelmed him and he didn’t clear them in time,” the solicitor added.
The court heard that the couple has a record with Mrs Gormley’s pre-dating 1998. “She does the day-shift and he works the night-shift,” he continued.
However, noting the couple’s previous record, District Judge Nigel Broderick stated: “They have a poor record of licences when you put them together.”
The solicitor said the couple fully accepts “they are walking on egg shells” and added that Mr Gormley has been out of trouble since 2010.
“They have taken on board the obvious, that they have to watch themselves. They got behind themselves after the event kicked off late and had three employees working that night.
“He’s a farmer as well as running the bar.”
Judge Broderick said: “I have to say with some reluctance, and I appreciate there was circumstances beyond their control, but they have poor records in breaching licences.
“This was visited upon them rather than of their own making.”
A second charge of selling intoxicating liqueur outside of hours was withdrawn by the Public Prosecution Service.
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