Fulham Bar Owner Fined £26,000 for Covid-19 Rule Breaches

Jack’s Cafe and Bar found to have ignored restrictions during lockdown

Jack's Bar on Wandsworth Bridge Road

The owner of a Wandsworth Bridge Road bar that broke Covid rules again and again, has been required to pay nearly £26,000 after a joint investigation by Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s trading standards and licensing teams.

Jack’s Café & Bar in Wandsworth Bridge Road was stripped of its licence in July 2020 after residents complained that the bar was ignoring Covid lockdown rules.

Council officers 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 judge described Mr Defeo's behaviour towards council officers as "arrogant, high-handed, belligerent and threatening". The licence review was supported by the Met Police, a local residents’ association and 32 individuals living near the bar. One of the residents told the hearing that they had lived peacefully in the building for eight years until Mr Defeo's arrival at which point their life became “horrendous, frightening and stressful”.

The judge added, “I think I can safely say that in all my judicial career I have never encountered a worse witness on his own behalf than Mr Defeo. Equally bewildering was his almost total lack of awareness that he was behaving in a manner that was so clearly damaging to his own case.”

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July 25, 2022