What happens if you are sitting at lunch and notice a dead canna lily languishing in a garden? Chances are good that you’d be threatened with prosecution. What happens if you are an accused al-Qaeda sleeper agent? Chances are you’d be set free.
From the Telegraph U.K.
Mother-of-two threatened with prosecution for picking dead flower
A mother-of-two, Angie Summers, was threatened with prosecution for theft and criminal damage after pulling up a dead flower from a council border in Devizes, Wiltshire.
Mrs Summers, 43, was on her lunchbreak in a public square when she uprooted the withered canna lily.
She said the 18-inch-high flower was dead and removed it because it was spoiling the look of the display.
However, a passer-by reported her actions to the town council and Mrs Summers was stunned when a police officer later called at her home.
He threatened to ‘put her in the cells’ and warned that she could be prosecuted for theft and criminal damage – offences carrying a possible six-month prison term.
Wiltshire police eventually dropped the case and have since admitted that she acted with ”good intentions”.
Mrs Summer, who has ten-year-old twin daughters Leah and Lacey, said it had been a waste of time and public money.
She said: ”I quite often take off the dead heads from the flowers.
”I saw this dead plant and thought, that doesn’t look very nice. So I pulled it up – it didn’t need much pulling.
”So I was amazed when a policeman arrived. He told me what options I had: he could come and arrest me and put me in the cells, or I could come in to the police station voluntarily.
”You get rough drinkers in there shouting and swearing and urinating on the flower beds and nothing seems to happen to them.
”This whole thing is a terrible waste of taxpayers’ money.”
Mrs Summers, who works in a sandwich shop, was on her lunchbreak as usual in a small square in Devizes town centre.
She was sitting on a park bench eating her food when she spotted the dead canna lily in a flowerbed.
The square is owned and maintained by the local town council and contains a number of canna lilies and other plants.
Mrs Summers claims one of the dead lilies had been overlooked by workmen and was left spoiling the border.
She pulled it out of the ground, wrapped it in a plastic bag, and put it in the boot of her car before disposing of it later that day.
She was spotted by someone who reported her to Devizes Town Council.
Two days later, a police officer appeared on her doorstep following an official complaint from the authority.
Mrs Summers, who lives in Devizes, said: ”I just couldn’t believe it.”
Inspector Andy Noble said: ”The police did receive a complaint about a plant being removed but we have investigated the complaint and are satisfied that the person involved acted with good intentions.
”As far as we are concerned, that is the end of the matter.”
Devizes Town Council continues to stand by the prosecution.
It claims 1,500 plants have been stolen from the town centre in the past 12 months, including several £6 canna lilies.
Workmen have since cleared the border of the remaining plants, which will be kept in greenhouses over the winter.
Simon Fisher, the deputy town clerk, said: ”We don’t believe the plant was dead.
”We have lost a lot of plants this year, many of them we believe are ending up at car boot sales, and this is the first chance we’ve had to take any action.
”There is a principle here.”