A woman who faced court over allegedly throwing a cigarette butt onto a street told of her relief yesterday when she was acquitted by magistrates. Mother-of-four Claire Bailey, 39, of Redwood Place, Ebbw Vale, appeared before Abergavenny Magistrates’ Court over a charge related to dropping the cigarette end outside the New Look store in Ebbw Vale last year. It is believed the trial was the first contested prosecution brought in relation to an anti-littering operation, run by a private company with Blaenau Gwent council.
Chairman of the bench the Rev Michael Phillips said the case was “not proved beyond a reasonable doubt”. Ms Bailey, who represented herself, had pleaded not guilty to an offence of throwing down, leaving or otherwise depositing litter in Bethcar Street, Ebbw Vale. Margaret Liggins, who at the time was an enforcement officer for the private company XFOR, told the court that on October 21, 2011 she saw Ms Bailey take a drag from a cigarette and throw it to the floor.
She said after Ms Bailey came out of New Look with a group of others, she was abusive and refused to take a fixed penalty notice. They later attempted to take the notice to her home but after her colleague left it there, Ms Bailey screwed it up and threw it away, the court was told. Giving evidence, Ms Bailey denied she had a regular cigarette and insisted she’d been smoking a hand-rolled one, which she had extinguished and put in her back pocket.
Ms Bailey admitted her language in the town centre was “atrocious” but denied being abusive at home. She said: “I’m relieved now that the truth has come out.” She said she didn’t think the council should stop trying to catch people dropping litter. But she added: “They should get proof before they go accusing people.”