A dog owner could be fined £1,000 for dog mess that he immediately cleared up.
John Churchill, 77, is facing court and a criminal record over what he describes as an ‘unfair’ dog fouling fine.
The former RAF pilot had finished walking his two dogs on the South Downs one morning in March when a dog warden told him he had not cleared up mess from his five-year-old Alsatian, Shaka.
John, who lives with his wife in Durrington Hill in Worthing, said the dog warden approached him in Honeysuckle Lane, High Salvington: “He stated that he had seen me turn and look at the dog as he was squatting and I had done nothing about it.
He added: “It was very foggy and there’s heavy shadow along there.
“I honestly believe he was mistaken in his belief that I had deliberately ignored my dog’s droppings.
“I immediately agreed to pick it up.”
But despite clearing up the mess swiftly, John was handed a fixed penalty notice for £50 and told there was no way to appeal it.
He added: “I was very surprised to see that the dog warden has no discretion.
“I thought it was very unfair, this is not the way citizens should be treated.
“So, I just did not pay the fine.”
But sticking to his principles has resulted in John being summoned to Worthing Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 7, where he said he intends to plead not guilty.
If John is convicted, the £50 fine he initially received could soar as high as £1,000 and leave him with a criminal record.
This is possible because Worthing Borough Council introduced a Public Spaces Protection Order, which allows it to hand out financial penalties for activities like dog fouling and littering – and take offenders to court if they do not pay.
A council spokesman said: “We take dog fouling very seriously. Not only is it very unpleasant for everyone, it is also poses a health risk.
“We provide hundreds of bins for dog mess across Adur and Worthing, making it easy for owners to clean up after their pets. Dog waste can also be put in general waste bins provided it is in a bag or, of course, owners can take it home with them.
They added: “In this case, we wrote to the gentleman three times giving him the opportunity to pay the £50 Fixed Penalty Notice.”