Licensee's husband takes responsibility for TV charges

The licensee of a town centre pub has been cleared of illegally beaming live televised football matches to customers after her husband appeared in court to admit he was responsible.

The licensee of a town centre pub has been cleared of illegally beaming live televised football matches to customers after her husband appeared in court to admit he was responsible.

Dawn Burgess was facing five charges of showing Sky Television games without a commercial licence at Notley's, in Lowestoft, but was acquitted by magistrates after her husband Neil confessed it was his decision to illegally install a system meant for domestic use.

The Federation of Copyright Theft (Fact) launched the prosecution after an investigator visited the pub, in Royal Thoroughfare, on five separate occasions and saw live football being shown on what appeared to be a domestic system - costing considerably less than an annual rental charge of nearly £9,000 for commercial use.

Giving evidence yesterday at Lowestoft Magistrates' Court, Mrs Burgess said that while she was the pub's licensee she was not in charge of the day-to-day running of the business and was not present during the broadcasts of the matches.

The prosecution claimed Mrs Burgess's position meant she was responsible for the offences, but she insisted the terms of her licence only covered the sale of the alcohol.

Neil Burgess, who owns Notley's, admitted he arranged for Sky coverage to be fed through to the pub's big screens from a domestic box used by one of his employees, Andrew Koziol, who lived in a flat above the premises.

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Mr Burgess said: “I was totally responsible. It was through my actions that she finds herself in court. Dawn has never committed a criminal offence in her life; she is a very honest person. I knew it was illegal. I've come here to tell you the truth.”

Mr Koziol said he was told by Mr Burgess not to tell Mrs Burgess what was happening “under any circumstances”. Mr Burgess cannot now face prosecution for the offences because too much time has elapsed since they were committed.

Mrs Burgess said that her husband had hinted he was considering using a domestic package for the pub after deciding the picture quality from the European service he installed was poor.

“I said to him that he would do it over my dead body and that I would go out and get a commercial package from Sky,” she added.

Mrs Burgess also revealed that she and her husband had previously split up following a row sparked by his use of a domestic system.

Prosecutor William Eaglestone insisted Mrs Burgess was guilty under the terms of her licence, but Matthew McNiff, said this was not true and that the case was flawed.

Mr McNiff added that Mrs Burgess had arranged for a commercial Sky system to be installed in late November 2006 - before three of the alleged offences had taken place - but that there was a delay in the viewing card being sent out.

Chairman of the bench Reg Leggett said: “We have not found any evidence that Mrs Burgess was responsible for anything other than the sale of alcohol.”

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