Harborough traveller accused of flouting Covid laws over a massive funeral for his brother will face no further criminal action

He was charged by police - but the case was dropped at Northampton magistrates' court this afternoon (Monday)

Monday, 19th April 2021, 5:11 pm
Updated Monday, 19th April 2021, 5:12 pm
The procession on Bowling Green Road.

A Market Harborough traveller accused of flouting strict Covid laws over a massive funeral for his brother in Kettering will face no further criminal action.

Patrick James Rooney, 48, was charged with breaking coronavirus rules over the funeral of his sibling, Corby man Joe Rooney, well known locally as 'Gypsy Joe', in November.

But the case against Rooney, of Greenacres travellers’ site on Leicester Road, Market Harborough, was dramatically dropped at Northampton magistrates' court this afternoon (Monday).

Rooney got into hot water after some 150 mourners turned out at St Edward's Church to celebrate the life of his younger brother Joe Rooney, 47, on the morning of Monday November 9.

He died in a crash between Stanion and Geddington in October.

Watched by police, horses and carriages festooned with Irish flags led mourners through Kettering on their way to the crematorium to pay their respects.

The huge get-together came just days after a second tough lockdown was imposed in England in a bid to combat to the fast-growing spread of Covid-19.

People were only allowed to meet with one other person outdoors in a public place under the crackdown.

Rooney was charged by police with participating in a gathering of two or more people in a public place.

But today Stella Moses, prosecuting, told the court that the Crown Prosecution Service had decided to withdraw the charge after a "careful review of the case".

Rooney had funded his own defence and his costs will now be paid back through central funds, the court heard.

Magistrates told him there would be no further action and thanked him for attending the hearing.

In the days after the funeral, Northamptonshire Police said they could hand out their first £10,000 Covid fine to the funeral's organiser.

Police later revealed that hundreds of ‘mourners’ had joined a wake in a field with a marquee as police set up emergency roadblocks to seal it off.

About 60 officers were prepared in riot gear to break the party up, police said at the time.