Borrower in Skipton Library rant ‘acted like Spit the Dog’

First published in News

A borrower at Skipton Library hurled abuse at police before spitting at them “like Spit the Dog”, magistrates were told.

Andrew Matthews, 50, was arrested outside the library on a busy Saturday afternoon in September after refusing to leave, the court heard.

Police were called after Matthews, who denied resisting arrest, had argued with staff about its policy of renewing books, upsetting people inside.

His behaviour in the High Street, witnessed by several passers-by, including those sitting at a market coffee bar, caused one woman to shake with shock and another to have to sit down. PCs Jon Stubbs and Tim Healey, giving evidence at Monday’s trial, said Matthews had been aggressive and very abusive and had used “colourful” language not suitable for Skipton or in front of children and other members of the public.

PC Healey had been concerned of an escalation of the situation after a fellow library user with a child described Matthews as a “nasty man”.

Warned that he faced summons for a public-order offence, Matthews continued to be difficult and was handcuffed twice before being forcibly taken to the ground.

He was then led to the police van, where he tried to avoid getting in before turning and spitting in the direction of the officers.

“He took a deep breath and, like Spit the Dog, launched spit towards us.

“Fortunately, it went between us and missed,” said PC Healey, who in cross examination said there was no doubt in his mind of the defendant’s intention.

Matthews told the court he disagreed with the library’s renewal policy and for him to be stopped from using its services was “excessive”.

He accepted he had sworn at the officers but not in front of children and denied spitting at the officers.

He further claimed he was disabled, with a range of illnesses, and said the officers should be in a “boxing ring” because of the way they had forced him to the ground. But Matthews, who the court heard had previous convictions for similar offences and breaches of an anti-social behaviour order, was found guilty of resisting a police officer in the execution of his duty and was ordered to pay a total of £1,082 in fines and costs.

After sentence was passed, Matthews, of Wellcroft, Otley, said he would not pay the fine and instructed his solicitor Mike Walsh to appeal.

“There’s no chance of that getting paid. There’s more chance of snowboarding in hell,” he said.

Magistrates told Matthews he would be expected to pay £30 a week and warned him if he refused he would find himself back in court.

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