A MAN was hit with a £75 fine for not cleaning up dog mess, despite the animal not belonging to him.

Craig Harper, 20, of Heather Close, Tredegar, appeared at Newport Crown Court to appeal against a conviction of failing to clean up dog faeces while in charge of the dog.

Mr Harper told the court the dog was his parents’ and he was visiting their house at the time of the offence to pick up post when he was visited by an enforcement officer working for Blaenau Gwent council.

But judge Niclas Parry ruled the conviction was right, despite the dog belonging to Mr Harper’s parents, because, he said, Mr Harper was in charge of the dog at the time.

In October 2011, Blaenau Gwent council teamed up with private company XFOR to hand out fines to people for dog fouling and dropping litter.

Mr Harper lives with his grandmother in Beaufort Road, Tredegar, but his postal address is at his parents’ house in Heather Close.

On August 16, 2011, Mr Harper went to his parents’ house to pick up post.

When he arrived, the gate was open and his parents’ black and white terrier dog Lucy, which they have had for around ten years, had got out.

Council enforcement officer Mark Cochrane spotted the dog fouling nearby at Ysguborwen, and followed her back to Heather Close.

Mr Cochrane said Mr Harper claimed the dog belonged to his parents but told him he had seen the dog fouling and it hadn’t been picked up.

He wrote a fixed penalty notice in Mr Harper’s name and posted it through the door.

Mr Harper’s father, Andrew Mumford, said he wrote to Abergavenny Magistrates’ Court claiming responsibility for the dog and had not realised Mr Harper had to attend a hearing at the court on March 19.

Mr Harper was convicted in his absence and fined £350, ordered to pay £150 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Judge Parry ruled the conviction applied but reduced the fine to £75 but kept prosecution costs at £150 and the victim surcharge at £15.

He said: "I suggest you use the money you save to buy a kennel with a lock."

Owner tells of anger at decision

Speaking after the case, Mr Mumford said he was angry with the decision.

"Craig was never even given the chance to go and pick the mess up. It’s not his dog. We were fully prepared to take responsibility. I’ve had two more fixed penalty notices within five minutes of each other since this. I just feel we’re an easy target now."