A DUNFERMLINE woman caught begging in the street during the lockdown told police that COVID-19 was “all a government conspiracy”.

That attitude resulted in Suzanne Gibbons racking up a series of fixed penalty fines, Dunfermline Sheriff Court heard. She was out on the streets begging for money to feed her drug habit.

Gibbons, 35, of James Bank Hostel, admitted that on April 12, at Carnegie Drive Retail Park, Dunfermline, she contravened COVID-19 regulations by refusing to return to her home address, persisted in remaining at the scene in order to beg and did not adhere to lockdown requirements.

Depute fiscal Azrah Yousaf said police officers saw Gibbons sitting on the pavement outside Tesco in the town centre at 9.50am and when they returned a short time later she was still there.

As they arrived, she was picking up her quilt and begging cup.

The officers were there to give a her a fixed penalty for a lockdown breach the day before.

Asked why she was there, Gibbons said she was “chancing her luck” and that “she wasn’t bothered about COVID because it was all a government conspiracy”, added the depute.

Gibbons was then given another fixed penalty. At 11.10am, officers saw her again, this time outside Home Bargains at the Carnegie Drive Retail Park and close to the hostel where she was staying.

However, Gibbons refused to go home when told to do so and was arrested.

Defence solicitor Gordon Martin said: “She has racked up a number of fines as a result of being out during the lockdown. She doesn’t know what the total is.”

“Why was she begging if she’s on benefits?” asked Sheriff Alastair Brown.

Mr Martin said she needed more money because of her drug habit.

Sheriff Brown told Gibbons: “For all we know, you were carrying the virus and for all we know you passed it on to other people.

“There was a reason for the lockdown and the virus has not gone away. If people will not obey the regulations, they are a threat to other people and we’ve had over 4,000 deaths from this virus in Scotland alone.”

The sheriff deferred sentence on Gibbons until January 13 for her to be of good behaviour. He warned her if she continued to offend: “You’ll find yourself in very serious trouble. Start obeying the rules.”