When 24-year-old office worker Laura Howells went for lunch in KFC with some friends, she never in her wildest dreams would have imagined that it would end up costing her more than £400/$630, but that’s exactly what ended up happening!!
Whilst eating her lunch in the B&Q car park in Trostre, Llanelli, Howells ended up dropping a 2.5cm by 5cm sachet of salt on the floor in front of a council litter enforcement officer. Even though Howells picked the sachet up and explained to the warden that she it had dropped unintentionally, she was still slapped with a £75 fine!
When she did not pay the fine, she was summoned to appear at Carmarthen Magistrates Court where she pleaded guilty to an offence outlined in Section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. She was ordered to pay the original fine and fined a further £316 in court costs and a £15 victim surcharge fee!
Howells feels unfairly treated in the whole incident, she said:
“I felt sick when I found out how much the fine was – it is definitely over the top. If I had been caught a couple of times then it is fair enough, but that’s not the case at all. I am not the type of person who ever litters.”
But Jim Jones, the council’s executive board member for environmental and public protection feel that Howells was fairly treated, arguing that littering is illegal regardless of the size of that which is discarded. He said; “I hope this acts as a warning to others. Dropping litter is against the law, whether it is discarding rubbish from a vehicle, throwing cigarette ends or spitting out chewing gum.
We do not want to fine people but we are determined to clean up Carmarthenshire and we will not hesitate to prosecute those that break the law in this way.”
If, as Howells claims, dropping the salt sachet was an accident, then the fine does appear to be a little on the harsh side, especially as she picked it up immediately and as she noted – had not previously been cautioned for littering. After all, it is not inconceivable that the tiny, light sachet simply slipped from her grasp without her noticing.
However, as one of the comments on the Daily Mail’s article about the incident pointed out, she really should have appealed the initial fine rather ignore it, because she must have known there would have been a possibility of being hit with court costs!
What do you think? Was this justice served with a side of hotwings? Or was she unfairly treated for what was an honest mistake? Leave a comment and let us know.