'I thought cigarette butts were biodegradable': Five hit with heavy fines after littering in Sunderland city centre
Five defendants are to pay a hefty price after dropping cigarette ends in Sunderland city centre.
Of the five, Sunderland City Council prosecuted four in their absence at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court.
Jamie McDougall, 19, was the only one to attend the court hearing on Wednesday, November 27.
The court heard he had dropped a cigarette end in Market Square outside the entrance to the Bridges on June 7 earlier this year.
The teenager, of Marley Crescent, made no attempt to pick it up but when approached by a environmental enforcement officer apologised and return to pick up the cigarette end and discarded it in a nearby bin, said council prosecutor Kate Lewis.
In mitigation for himself, Mr McDougall apologised saying: “I wasn’t aware that littering a cigarette butt was an offence. I thought the butt was biodegradable.”
He also added that due to his financial situation he was unable to pay the fine, but would be happy to set up a payment over a number of weeks.
Mr McDougall was given a conditional discharge for six months and ordered to pay a £20 surcharge and £70 court costs.
Kate Lewis, prosecuting for Sunderland City Council, proved the remaining four littering cases in the defendants’ absence.
They had all been issued with a £150 fixed penalty notice which would be reduced to £95 if paid within 10 days.
The defendants, however, did not pay the penalty. They were sent a reminder, a second reminder and then a letter to say legal proceedings would be taken, but did not respond.
The court heard when Steph Carolan, of Hadleigh Road, was approached by an environmental enforcement officer she picked up the cigarette end she had littered on High Street West and handed over her details.
But when she realised she would receive a fine she told the officer: “You should have told me before I gave you my details, I’m fuming.”
The 26-year-old was ordered to pay a £220 fine, £30 surcharge, and court costs of £248.50.
Jess Maydon, of Hawthorn Street, refused to hand her details to the officer after dropping a cigarette end on Crowtree Road on May 1, 2019. She then attempted to return to work but when her manager appeared she told the officer she’d give him her details, the court heard.
The 20-year-old was fined £220, ordered to pay a £30 surcharge and £270.50 in court costs.
Ahead of the hearing Jessica Minto, of Buttermere Avenue, wrote to the court to indicate a guilty plea after dropping a cigarette end in Crowtree Road on April 10.
In the letter she said: “I accept full responsibility for my actions and wish to plead guilty.”
She said her intentions were never to not pay the fine and the court heard she had previously asked for an extension.
The 20-year-old was ordered to pay a £40 fine, £30 surcharge and £248.50 court costs.
Correll Dinu, 43, of Argyle Square, dropped a cigarette end in Park Lane on April 4, earlier this year. He was ordered to pay a £220 fine, £30 surcharge and £270.50 in court costs.
The Echo continues to run its Clean Streets campaign which encourages people across Wearside to keep our city free of litter and rubbish.