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Man fined for breaking French Covid lockdown to ‘smash a guy’s face in’

Police say 39-year-old had filled in a form stating he had a legitimate reason to leave home

By Kim Willsher

French police have fined a man who left his home with a written lockdown declaration stating he was out to “smash a guy’s face in”.

The man, who has not been named, had reportedly correctly filled in the legally required declaration, known as an “attestation”, with his name, address and time he left his home in Lannion, Brittany.

However, officers found that instead of ticking one of the boxes stating a legitimate reason to go outside during France’s national lockdown – these include going shopping, visiting the doctor, travelling to work or exercising for up to one hour at a maximum distance of 1km – the man had written “aller péter la gueule à un mec”, an activity not covered by the form.

Daniel Kerdraon, the local police chief, said his officers had discovered the 39-year-old lurking behind a car late on Friday evening.

“When asked what he was doing he explained that he was waiting for someone to ‘smash their face in’ … he had the written form with his real name and the time he had left home – 10.15pm – but we told him his reason for going out was not valid. He was trying to fulfil the letter of the law, in his own way,” Kerdraon told local newspapers.

As well as the €135 (£120) fine for having an insufficient excuse for being out in public, the man was also fined €150 for being drunk in a public place. He could face further fines on Monday after he is questioned about carrying the flick-knife he was found with.

Anyone leaving their home for any reason during France’s lockdown must carry a permission form issued by the interior ministry. As might be expected of French bureaucracy, these declarations require the person’s name, address, date and place of birth and must be signed, dated and precisely timed.

This second lockdown, after a two-month strict “confinement”in March and April, began last month and is expected to run until at least 1 December. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, will give a televised address on Tuesday outlining how restrictions may be eased.

Police and gendarmes enforcing the restrictions have revealed over the past months some of the imaginative reasons and ruses people have used in order to be out and about.

During the earlier lockdown, one man told officers: “I’m fed up with my wife, I must absolutely go and see my mistress,” while another couple said they were out to pick daffodils before the flowers all died. Although visits to food shops are allowed, these must be for the purchase of “essential comestibles”; police did not consider three lemons for an aperitif to be essential. Another man stopped by officers said he was visiting his grandmother, whose name he could not remember.

One young man stopped on his scooter told police he was making an urgent medical delivery of blood. Indeed, the words “urgent blood” had been written in red lipstick on his topbox. Inside police found cannabis, cocaine and €800 in cash.

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