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Moment cops catch punters breaking Covid lockdown after they snuck into pub to sink pints and sing karaoke

THIS is the moment cops caught punters breaking Covid lockdown laws by sneaking into a pub to down pints and sing karaoke.

Customers crept into The Cock Hotel in Denton, Manchester through the back door for 'invite-only' booze-ups during lockdown.

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Police who raided the bar found four people cowering upstairs.

Designated premises supervisor Michael Andrew said he'd simply been having a drink with his lodger while watching a football match, the MEN reports.

But when more people were then found hiding, he changed his story – telling licensing officials and cops the incident was just a "one-off".

He said he'd invited pals over because he was "lonely", and wasn't selling alcohol.

However, when officials looked through CCTV footage, they found the pub had been open and trading on three more occasions during the shutdown.

And video showed people had been leaving at 5.30am after staying all night.

A meeting of Tameside's licensing panel heard this week that Mr Andrew had been buying his own barrels of beer worth more than £370.

He'd then sold pints to customers without going through the till.

Pub owner Ei Group Ltd has sacked Mr Andrew, and he's been evicted from his flat in the building, it was heard.

Rebecca Birch, regulatory compliance officer at Tameside council, said there had been "flagrant breaches" of the law.

“The pub was operated by invite only to regular customers and was open until the early hours of the morning, and karaoke was being conducted along with customers smoking inside,” she told councillors.

The meeting heard that, at the time the pub was open last month, Tameside had the highest cumulative Covid death toll in the country, with more than 500 fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic.

Greater Manchester Police's licensing officer, PC Martin Thorley, said Mr Andrew put the welfare of staff, customers and wider members of the public "in danger".

“I consider the behaviour and actions of the management and staff at The Cock Hotel to have been totally irresponsible," he said.

Mr Andrew was handed a £1,000 fine for the breaches – but has so far failed to pay, it was heard.

Solicitor Richard Taylor, representing pub owner Ei Group, said Mr Andrew had been "hoisted by the CCTV petard".

“Within an hour of Ei being notified, Mr Andrew had been removed," he said.

"He’s been served with an eviction notice. He will have nothing to do with these premises moving forward.

"He’s not the sort of tenant that we want or expect in any of our premises."

The pub will be allowed to keep its licence, but any new supervisor will be vetted by police.

It comes as cops yesterday broke up a London rooftop bash and a 100-strong house party – hours after the UK recorded its worst-ever Covid toll.

PCs in the capital were left "astounded" after selfish revellers mobbed an industrial unit, while in England's second hardest-hit region, scores of people gathered in a village home.

Officers branded the events "completely unacceptable" as they fined the organisers.

Under the lockdown, Brits are only allowed to meet with one person from another household, and it must be outside and in a public place for exercise. All pubs, bars and restaurants are shut.

A further 1,564 people were recorded to have died on Wednesday – higher than the daily toll reached during the peak of the first wave.

Positive cases also rose by 47,525, bringing the total number of infections to 3,164,051.

It has also been the deadliest week in the pandemic so far – with an average daily death toll of 931 in the last seven days.

During the first wave of Covid early last year, the highest seven-day average – between April 6 and April 12 – stood at 920. 

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