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New twist in Great Yarmouth 'Womble' case

PUBLISHED: 10:08 19 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:57 16 September 2010

Anthony Carroll

A 74-year-old man accused of sifting through rubbish and strewing it near Great Yarmouth's seafront appeared in court yesterday.

Dennis Bostock, who has been labelled a human Womble, was due to be given a three-year antisocial behaviour order after he was convicted in his absence of five counts last week of disturbing black bin bags in a service road between Apsley Road and Marine Parade.

A 74-year-old man accused of sifting through rubbish and strewing it near Great Yarmouth's seafront appeared in court yesterday.

Dennis Bostock, who has been labelled a human Womble, was due to be given a three-year antisocial behaviour order after he was convicted in his absence of five counts last week of disturbing black bin bags in a service road between Apsley Road and Marine Parade.

The Asbo would have banned him from interfering with any rubbish and feeding birds in Yarmouth borough.

However, in a legal turnaround, the five convictions against Mr Bostock were set aside after magistrates heard he should have had representation in court when he appeared on Tuesday of last week.

Bostock, of Apsley Road, who appeared in the dock wearing a flowery skirt, will now appear in court in two weeks' time to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty against the five offences of disturbing rubbish.

During yesterday's hearing, Yarmouth magistrates heard arguments debating Bostock's mental state as a discussion went on whether it was in the public interest that he had been convicted in his absence and without proper representation.

The court also heard that Bostock had been given an antisocial behaviour order in Blackpool to stop him continually sifting through bins.

Last week, magistrates were told Bostock had been labelled a human Womble for filling his previous home in the northern resort full of rubbish.

Kevin Batch, representing Bostock yesterday, said: “This is a man with what we would loosely call a personality disorder.

“There is a difference between self publicists and those with a personality that attracts publicity.”

However Mr Batch added that just because someone was a cross dresser it would be an insult to say they had a personality disorder.

Mr Batch also said Mr Bostock did not appear at last week's hearing when he was convicted in his absence as he was confused by the legal paperwork sent to him by Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

If the Asbo hearing had gone ahead, Bostock could have faced up to five years in prison for interfering with any rubbish in Yarmouth by breaching the order.

He could also have been jailed for feeding any bird in the borough as it is alleged he leaves out piles of bread crumbs around Apsley Road, which attract squawking sea gulls.

Nicola Swan, prosecuting for Yarmouth Borough Council, said that a mental assessment carried out before Bostock's court appearance said “he had no perceived disorder”.

Mrs Swan said Bostock's propensity to dress differently and act rebelliously was because it gave him “a purpose in life”.

She added: “The council does not mind what people wear; the council minds what people do.”

The court was told that all the paperwork sent to Bostock was correct and proper, and he was aware that last week's hearing was going on. After setting aside his five convictions, magistrates bailed Mr Bostock to appear before them in early September.

His bail conditions mean he cannot enter the service road and feed any birds in Yarmouth.

Chairman of the bench Linda Barber said: “If you break these conditions it could be quite serious.”

On Tuesday of last week Bostock was fined a total of £1,750 for the five counts of disturbing rubbish.

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