A hairdresser said he has been through two years of stress because of a council prosecution for a dropped cigarette butt which was not his.
Adrian Shann, 31, was accused of dropping the discarded cigarette on the platform at Doncaster train station in August 2019, but said he told the enforcement officers that it wasn't his cigarette, which was still in his hands.
He said he dropped a packet of sugar, which blew out of his hands as he was juggling two cups of hot tea, but he picked it up.
However, Shann said he "naively" gave them his name and address, and then days later received a notice of intended prosecution.
He said he was out of work at the time and appeared on an episode of Channel Four's Benefit Britain, which highlighted his struggles with money.
After notifying Doncaster Council that he was refusing to pay the fine, Shann had a Christmas visit from the bailiffs, by which time the fine had escalated to £670, thanks to extra charges imposed by debt collectors.
He said: ”It totally ruined Christmas. I told them I couldn't pay. They technically tried to steal my stuff, for doing nothing wrong.”
Adrian said he spent £25 on fuel to make the 120-mile round trip for a court case that was scheduled for 11 August but the council appeared via a Teams call.
Two days later, Shann received a letter to say that the prosecution had been withdrawn, with no explanation.
"I feel really angry about it, it's been two years of stress and anxiety," he said.
"I would urge other people to challenge and stand their ground if they've done nothing wrong…
“This should never have got to court."
Scott Fawcus, assistant director legal and democratic services for Doncaster Council, said the alleged offence was witnessed by a “former employee of Doncaster Council’s external enforcement agency” and said the council did not show up at court as their legal team were unaware a hearing had been scheduled.
He added: “After further consideration, and the unavailability of a key witness, Doncaster Council were left with little option but to offer no evidence and withdraw the matter…
“We regret the inconvenience this has caused Shann and apologise to him for the upset this has caused him.”
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