London, Jun 20 (ANI): A judge has blasted a council officer for wasting 5000 pounds of taxpayers' money by dragging a teenager to crown court over a dropped mint wrapper.
The sweet wrapper had blown out of Larissa Wilkinson's car window when her 18-month-old niece unwrapped it, and when the officer spotted it, the 19-year-old girl was charged with depositing controlled waste.
Judge Roger Scott was stunned when she appeared before him at crown court, where murderers and rapists face trial.
"Can you explain to me why this charge was ever brought? She has dropped a single sweet wrapper," the Sun quoted the judge as asking the council's barrister Austin Newman.
"Is it controlled waste? I've looked it up and I don't see how you could possibly argue it is.
"It's the most inappropriate set of proceedings I've personally ever, ever seen and it's a fantastic waste of community charge payers' money.
"This was a grotesque misuse of the powers of the authorities," he stated.
The judge refused to let Wilkinson sit in the dock, and invited her into the witness stand instead.
The interior design student explained that she was driving her Fiat Punto with niece Lyla Henderson when the tot unwrapped a Bassett's Murray Mint, and dropped the wrapper in the car but it blew away.
Wilkinson, who had passed her test a month earlier, only realised what had happened when a 75 pounds fixed penalty was sent to her home in Mirfield, West Yorks.
"I decided I wasn't going to pay. As a student I only get 30 pounds a week to live on. But also it just wasn't fair. It wasn't my fault and if I'd tried to stop the wrapper then I might have crashed," she said.
She appeared before magistrates three times, but chose to be tried by jury at Bradford Crown Court.
"The judge was great. I am so pleased he was on my side. It was quite scary," she added.
The cost of the case, estimated at 5,000 pounds, would have spiralled to 10,000 pounds if it had been heard before a jury.
"Rubbish thrown from vehicles contributes greatly to the defacement of our streets," a Kirklees Council spokesman said.
"The person in control of a vehicle is liable for waste thrown from that vehicle whether they threw the waste out or not," he added.
Wilkinson accepted a caution, but did not have to pay the 75 pounds.
"I hope you enjoyed your day in court," the judge told her. (ANI)