DEVASTATED Dale Lidster definitely bit off more than he could chew - after being landed with a whopping £545 bill for dropping an empty bag of chips.
The 23-year-old was caught on CCTV throwing an empty chip wrapper at a friend in Horncastle Market Place last September.
He appeared before Skegness Magistrates last week and was fined £300. He was also ordered to pay £250 costs and a victim surcharge of £15.
But Mr Lidster, who lives at Tennyson Gardens, Horncastle, has hit out at decision as “excessive” and “ridiculous.”
He has vowed to appeal after claiming that when he drove away from the scene, the chip wrapper was still in his friend’s hands.
In an exclusive interview with the News, Mr Lidster said: “I can’t believe what has happened. Almost £600...it must be the most expensive bag of chips in the country.
“It’s not funny, not when you have to find £600 and when you haven’t done anything wrong in the first place.
“I am going to appeal. I’d never condone littering but even if I had dropped the chip wrapper and left it, the fine is ridiculous - and very excessive.
“There are people going to court for assaults and they don’t get anything like what I received.”
The court bill could have been even higher as the News has seen a council document which suggests their initial claim for costs was £901.66.
Mr Lidster, a self employed car valeter, does not deny “throwing” the chip wrapper but claims it was horseplay.
He says East Lindsey District Council’s CCTV clearly shows that when he’d finished eating the chips, he put the screwed up wrapper in the pocket of a friend in what he called “a joking manner.”
The friend threw the wrapper back at Mr Lidster who was sat in his car. Mr Lidster says he threw the wrapper back at his friend before driving off.
He said the CCTV shows that when he drove off, his friend was holding the litter in his hand.
Mr Lidster added: “The CCTV then focuses on two other bits of litter but they were nowhere near where I was parked.
“The whole thing is ridiculous. The annoying thing is you can go into the town centre any night of the week and there’s always litter around.
“If that’s shown on CCTV, why have they only taken me to court? Okay, I did throw the wrapper but it was picked up straight away.”
Mr Lidster stressed he had never been in trouble before. He added: “I can’t even remember what the magistrates said to me because I was too stunned to take it all in.”
Ironically, if Mr Lidster had paid the initial fixed penalty notice, it would have cost him £75.
He added: “I didn’t pay because I hadn’t done anything wrong. Now, I’ve got to find almost £600. I work hard but I just don’t have that type of money hanging around. Who does these days?”
Mr Lidster said he had been contacted by many people who said the fine was excessive.
ELDC defended the decision to take the case to court and said it highlighted their attempts to reduce littering and fly tipping.
A spokesman sressed the council was not involved in deciding the size of the fine.
Figures obtained by the News show the council issued 31 fixed penalty notices in the last 12 months but only prosecuted two people.
The spokesman added: “Littering will not be tolerated in East Lindsey because we know how important clean streets are to people. If people don’t pay the fixed penalty, we always consider court action.
“We use state of the art CCTV, information from the community and our officers to catch those littering. This means anyone could be watching and reporting litterers.”
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Weather for Horncastle
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North east