A HIGH Court battle over a beer can filled with carrot juice has ended in Buckinghamshire Council’s favour – as they slammed a High Wycombe man for treating anti-social behaviour rules in the town centre with “contempt”.

A legal wrangle between the then-Wycombe District Council, now Buckinghamshire Council, and High Wycombe resident Alex Snowball has been ongoing ever since Mr Snowball was seen by police officers drinking from a beer can in Frogmoor on December 20, 2018.

A Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) was in place in a bid to tackle the ongoing blight of anti-social behaviour in the town centre – meaning anyone seen drinking alcohol or being in possession of an open container of alcohol could be given a fixed penalty notice (FPN).

Two police officers, PC Price and PC Cummins, saw Mr Snowball drinking from the can and “reasonably believed” he was drinking alcohol.

Mr Snowball refused to surrender the can or explain what was in it – so he was given an FPN.

According to court documents, he then poured out the liquid in the beer can – which he said was carrot juice.


Admitting he had been “deliberately awkward” with the PCs because of his “grievances against the authorities”, Mr Snowball said he had wanted to make them think it was alcohol he was drinking.

Although PC Cummins said he was no longer convinced it was alcohol in the can, he said a crime had still been committed and the fine still stood.

Mr Snowball refused to pay and was summonsed before High Wycombe Magistrates charged with refusing to comply.

At the hearing on December 17 last year, he pleaded not guilty and the district judge dismissed the case.

The district judge likened the situation to the issuing of a parking ticket, before it was discovered there had been no parking offence and that the ticket was issued in error, adding that because it was not alcohol in the can, the offence was not “complete”.

Not happy with this decision, WDC/Buckinghamshire Council appealed the decision in the High Court – and the High Court judges have backed the council.

The High Court judgement agreed that what Mr Snowball was drinking at the time was not alcohol, but said the alcohol did not need to be present for a crime to be committed – only that the PC had a “reasonable belief” that it was booze.

The decision to dismiss the magistrates court case has now been overturned, meaning Mr Snowball could now be convicted.

A spokesman for Buckinghamshire Council said the High Court judgement will help them continue to take anti-social behaviour seriously.

They said: “We are pleased that the Administrative Court’s decision supports our enforcement of the PSPO for High Wycombe Town Centre.

“The PSPO provides the legal framework to help us keep our town centres free from anti-social behaviour and on-street drinking so that local people and visitors can enjoy being in our towns without feeling threatened or intimidated.

“Mr Snowball tried to get round the PSPO by treating it with contempt and by testing our enforcement to the limits.

“The verdict of the court supports the strong action we took and more importantly, sends out a clear signal that we are serious about tackling anti-social behaviour, whatever form it might take.

“We work hard to ensure that the actions of the few do not limit the wider enjoyment of the many who rightfully want to enjoy being in our towns free from nuisance or intimidation.”

Mr Snowball, who ran Snowies in Frogmoor, told the paper the situation is a “mess” and he is now likely going to have to pay thousands of pounds in costs, although he is now homeless and will not be able to pay.