A Margate gallery manager, writer and artist is vowing to fight his case in court after being slapped with a penalty notice for spitting.
Dean Stalham, who runs the The Stretch Outsider Arts Gallery in The Centre, denies the offence and refuses to cough up the £80 fine, saying he was simply choking on a bit of bacon.
The dad-of-five, who lives in Cliftonville, has been protesting his innocence since being issued with the penalty notice almost a year ago and says he will now take his chances in court.
In a representation to the enforcement team at Thanet council Mr Stalham’s solicitors say there was no spitting and it was an: “involuntary expulsion of a very small piece of crispy pork.”
In the letter the solicitor says: “Mr Stalham had consumed some bacon in the Dalby Café and emerged from that establishment just prior to the commission of the alleged offence. He wished to clear his throat, not in the manner of an expectoration, but a short, sharp cough. There was no intent to gather any spittle or spray same upon the pavement or anywhere else.
“To his surprise, a minuscule morsel of bacon flew from his mouth, and did not even land on the pavement. It ended up on his sleeve.
“We respectfully state that the offence of spitting is not made out in this case. Mr Stalham, an artist and writer of high repute, and champion of many charitable causes, is not prone to acts of littering or any anti social behaviour, and will not be paying this fine.
“We applaud the vigilance of the enforcement officer but he was behind Mr Stalham, and we can only surmise that he may have detected a hawking noise. There was no spitting, merely the involuntary expulsion of a very small piece of crispy pork.”
The case has now ended up in court with an initial hearing taking place at Canterbury Magistrates this morning (January 22). It has been adjourned for trial at Folkestone Magistrates Court on March 25.
From the three months July-September last year Thanet council’s Enforcement Team issued more than 1,800 litter fixed penalty notices and carried out over 1,300 enforcement actions. Enforcement is carried out via a contract with Kingdom services.
Non payment of a Fixed Penalty Notice results in legal action. The maximum penalty which can be imposed by the courts for littering is £2,500.