Jailed pub landlady won’t do extra time for showing football

Hamilton Sheriff Court heard pub had no licence to screen football.
Hamilton Sheriff Court heard pub had no licence to screen football.

A jailed pub landlady has avoided further punishment after she admitted screening live football matches without a licence.

Maureen McLaughlin, who has convictions for drink driving and driving while disqualified, was charged again when Sky investigators found English Premier League action being shown at The Stables in Viewpark.

She appeared from custody at Hamilton Sheriff Court and admitted a copyright offence.

McLaughlin (42), of Glasgow, was fined £500, but opted for no time to pay. She was given the alternative of 14 days in jail, but that is effectively meaningless since she is currently serving a three-month prison stretch for breaching a community payback order.

The court heard Sky investigators went to the pub in October 2014 and found football being screened. A letter was sent to McLaughlin, demanding that she either take out a licence or sign a form promising not to show their games.

Another visit was made in April last year and the investigators mingled with bar customers glued to a Crystal Palace-Manchester City match on two screens.

Defence agent Diarmid Bruce said McLaughlin reacted to pressure from her regulars to show football.

Mr Bruce told the court: “The pub had a licence to show Sky racing, but patrons said they wanted to watch football and she was trying to keep them happy.

“The licensed trade is going through a difficult time, facing issues such as the smoking ban and the new drink driving limit. My client is running a small bar and isn’t making a great deal.”

Sheriff Douglas Brown heard McLaughlin was banned in 2011 for drink driving and attempting to pervert the course of justice. Subsequently she got a community payback order, including unpaid work, for driving while disqualified.

Recently she was jailed for three months for breaching that order.

Sky says it is determined to act against pubs screening games illegally. Last month it took out a full page advert in a trade magazine highlighting the success of court action against two Scottish licensees.

Three years ago the broadcasting giant suffered defeat in a series of cases involving pubs allegedly showing football illegally.

Charges were brought against licensees in Motherwell, Bellshill and New Stevenston, but these were thrown out after it emerged that contracts had been signed - only not with Sky.

The court heard licensees were able to get a much cheaper package from another company. A sheriff said if dishonesty was being alleged charges should have been brought against that supplier and not the licensees.