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Cigarette dropped at Ashford International Station cost John Wilson £1,300

By Sean Axtell

A man faces a £1,300 bill after tossing a cigarette on the floor at a railway station.

John Wilson was caught dropping the butt at Ashford International Station before a council officer hit him with a £75 fixed penalty notice.

But Wilson failed to pay and was then taken to court over his actions.

Ashford International StationPicture: Gary Browne FM3647889 (9950267)
Ashford International StationPicture: Gary Browne FM3647889 (9950267)

Folkestone Magistrates found him guilty of littering and fined him £100 with a victim surcharge of £30 and costs of £250.

However, Wilson appealed the decision at Canterbury Crown Court but his bid was overturned, and so he was hit with a further £1,000 bill in court costs.

Sam Caplin, Ashford Borough Council’s environmental enforcement officer, told the court he saw Wilson throw the butt and board a bus.

But the unemployed 56-year-old claimed he was going to pick it up and was only asking the driver for information.

Mr Caplin told Judge Mark Weekes: “I approached Mr Wilson and identified myself and told him I would be reporting the incident.

“Whether Mr Wilson intended to pick it up afterwards is irrelevant...” Barrister Samuel Davis

“I observed for four minutes. After throwing the cigarette butt he got on the bus.

“I approached him and asked him to come off the bus and towards me.”

Body camera footage played in court showing Mr Caplin cautioning Wilson before slapping him with a £75 fine.

Appearing via video link Wilson told the appeal hearing he placed the cigarette on the bus stop floor so he could chat to the driver.

Representing himself in court Wilson claimed he was going to dispose of it properly afterwards.

He said: “I got on the bus to ask the driver a question - I was never going to get a ride on the bus.

Canterbury Crown Court (9945498)
Canterbury Crown Court (9945498)

“Someone was coming to pick me up.

“I was going to pick it up and put it in the bin after I had spoken to the driver.”

However the council’s barrister Samuel Davis stressed the importance of environmental protection and claimed Wilson had “no intention” of removing the litter.

“The item was placed on the floor, therefore it is littering under the Environmental Protection Act.

“Whether Mr Wilson intended to pick it up afterwards is irrelevant.”

Wilson, of Navigation Way in Coventry, became visibly upset when Judge Weekes threw out the appeal and ordered him to pay the council’s costs.

The Universal Credit and Disability Allowance claimant said he has £100 disposable income a month and can pay crown court costs in 18 months, for the offence on June 10 2017.

To read more of our in depth coverage of all of the major trials coming out of crown and magistrates' courts across the county, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Ashford

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