Man fined over illegal parties aboard canal boat

A man must pay almost £2,000 for breaching Covid-19 regulations after police broke up illegal parties on his canal boat.

Jordy Nicholas Van Duijvenbode, 31, pleaded guilty to holding a gathering of more than 30 people and a second charge of participating in a gathering of two or more people in an indoor space.

Members of the public reported to police that large music gatherings were taking place on his boat in Hackney, east London, on February 5 and February 13 while the city was under lockdown restrictions.

Van Duijvenbode was fined £1,161 for the offences, with legal costs bringing the total to £1,902 which must be paid in six months.

Sentencing Van Duijvenbode at Stratford Magistrates’ Court on Friday, District Judge Susan Holdham said: “Given the time the incident took place there was a real prospect that one the attendees could have been infected.”

She added: “These offences occurred because this was the way the defendant made a living.

“But this was true for many people around the country, those who are in the hospitality sector, who run pubs and restaurants.”

Jordy Nicholas Van Duijvenbode court case
Van Duijvenbode’s boat has since been seized (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

However, Ms Holdham said that the attendees were likely to be younger and therefore “less likely to feel the ill-effects of the virus” after entering “on their free-will”.

Police had spoken to Van Duijvenbode on February 5 at around 1.20am when they had been alerted to reports that a large music event was being held on the boat.

He admitted he was aware of lockdown restrictions and said there were about 15 people on board at that time.

Then in the early hours of February 13, more than 30 partygoers fled from police who had ordered the boat to stop by jumping over a fence, and 26 people were issued with penalty notices.

The court had heard that at the time police officers believed there were more than 70 people on the boat, which was travelling between Tottenham and the Lea Valley.

Van Duijvenbode was paid between £300 and £700 for the use of his boat, called the Nebuchadrezzar, the court had heard.

Neighbouring houseboat residents described hearing loud music and voices.

Officers later seized a music system, loudspeakers and lights from the boat.

During his police interview, Van Duijvenbode had said about 30 to 40 people were on board and he had nothing to do with arranging the event which partygoers had to pay to enter.

He said he had no idea how many people would be turning up and that his job on the day was to drive the boat.

However, he had been warned by police in December 2020 not to host any parties, which he agreed to.

In April, Van Duijvenbode, who represented himself at a hearing, said: “In hindsight I shouldn’t have done it.

“I had applied for other Government grants but did not qualify for any of them – in terms of the boat succeeding or not, it was my only choice. It was all or nothing.”

He had told the court that he used to earn about £3,000 to £4,000 a month but has now been living in his Ford transit van, is on Universal Credit and is set to apply for bankruptcy.

The boat has since been seized by the Canal and River Trust.

The judge was left unimpressed when after asking what Van Duijvenbode will do for work, he joked: “Another party boat.”