Newtownards businessman sentenced to pay £1250 after pleading guilty to supplying illegal security

On Tuesday 28 March 2023, Christopher Butler was fined £750 at Laganside Crown Court and ordered to pay £500 prosecution costs.

Butler was sentenced following his guilty plea on 25 January 2023 to 5 offences for supplying illegal security to a Newtownards bar and restaurant in October 2019. The Security Industry Authority (SIA) brought the case after their investigations found unlicensed security operatives who were working illegally in Newtownards, County Down.

SIA investigators conducted licensing inspections in Newtownards accompanied by Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers on 12 October 2019. The investigators visited a restaurant and bar where they found two unlicensed security operatives working illegally. Strangford Security, Butler’s business had supplied illegal security between June and November 2019 to the restaurant. The area manager of the restaurant told SIA investigators that Strangford was the supplier and SIA investigators identified that he was using illegal security. He had supplied two unlicensed men; one of whom worked 21 times and the other 12 times.

In November 2019 Butler’s solicitor supplied some of the information requested by SIA investigators. However, he failed to provide the SIA with an accurate list of his security contracts and omitted the names of the two men who were identified providing illegal security to the restaurant.

Following the sentencing the SIA will be pursuing Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) enquiries.

Jenny Hart, one of the SIA’s Criminal Investigation Managers said:

“Mr Butler supplied unlicensed security operatives who worked illegally in a restaurant and bar thus putting the customers of the venue at risk from people who were wholly unsuitable. Butler’s actions damaged the venue’s reputation and he tried to evade the regulatory regime by providing false information and failing to reveal the full extent of his criminality to the SIA. The sentence reflected Mr Butler’s ill health, however we will pursue proceeds of crime enquiries and continue to address the supply of illegal and unlicensed private security in Northern Ireland.”