Bath’s Pigeon Man avoided jail for repeatedly feeding birds in the city centre – and has vowed to continue doing so.
In an explosive court hearing Paul Charlton was given 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 15 months, and told if he committed another offence in that time he will find himself behind bars.
Charlton, of no fixed address, is known throughout the city for regularly feeding the pigeons which flock to and perch on him under the columns off Stall Street and Bath Abbey.
His behaviour led Bath and North East Somerset Council to make a community protection notice banning him from doing so.
It led to the council bringing a prosecution against Charlton which saw him handed a criminal behaviour order (CBO) on January 23 by Bath magistrates.
Despite this Charlton, 42, continued to feed pigeons on a number of occasions throughout the year.
Speaking after his latest hearing today (Wednesday, October 18), Charlton said magistrates were ‘unreasonable’ and that he would not stop.
Standing in the dock, he told magistrates: “Send me to prison and when I come back I’ll have to do the same again.”
Despite this promise, the magistrates chose not to jail him.
Chair of the magistrates Jenny Simmonds said: “These breaches taken together are so serious that we must impose a custodial sentence.
“We’re sentencing you to two weeks in custody for each of these breaches – a total of 12 weeks.
“We’re suspending this on the condition that you don’t commit another offence within the next 15 months.
“If you’re convicted of another offence while on this order you can expect to serve this prison sentence.”
Charlton had admitted six breaches of the order at a hearing last month.
He was first charged with defying the CBO on January 30 – only seven days after it was made – as well as four more times in February and once in March.
A barrister for B&NES Council read out a victim impact statement from the director of Jacob’s Coffee House director, Jake Harris, saying his business is impacted by Charlton’s act.
It read: “Paul Charlton feeds the pigeons directly outside my premises and it impacts on us in several ways.
“He has been threatening to staff, invading their personal space.
“We have a responsibility to make sure tables are clean and hygienic. That experience reflects on the business good or bad. If there are pigeons flying around we get feedback.
“Many members of the public have made comments, some of it refers directly to Paul the pigeon man.
“I cannot move the shop – we pay business rates, rent, employ 40-50 staff members.
“We pay for our environment. He’s not operating a business and not paying taxes.
“I’ve had to pay £1,200 to get pigeon excrement professionally removed.”
Mr Harris said when a pigeon flies into the cake display, he has to throw away up to 30 cakes at once at a cost of £300 to the business.
Charlton, when asked if he had anything to say, told the court: “I feel this man is cooking up a fuss over nothing. The birds fly in all the shops.
“Send me to prison and when I come back I’ll have to do the same again.
“The court has lied about the truth and protected those people of that status.
“You’re not offering justice for all.”
Upon hearing his sentence, Charlton told magistrates: “I don’t believe in your ‘justice’.
His defence solicitor had appealed to the bench to spare Charlton prison and said his client receives benefits.
“I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Mr Charlton and he makes it very clear to me that he was very unhappy about the way the order was made,” Guy Percival said.
“He didn’t feel he had the opportunity to properly put his case and feels quite strongly a sense of injustice.
“I’ve been at pains to explain to him that you’re here to sentence these breaches and you obviously can’t revisit the making of the original order.
“The report presents very stark sentencing options. He says in very clear terms to me that he will not comply with a supervision order, he knows that leaves very few options indeed.
“I would invite you to consider a suspended sentence coupled with a contribution to costs.”
Charlton told the Chronicle at the end of his hearing that he would return to his haunt the following day.
“If you want a picture come back and speak to me tomorrow,” he said.
“I’ll be at pigeon land at 12pm.”
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