When new laws made it illegal to smoke in a company vehicle, tanker driver Chris Minihan accepted that his days of puffing away at the wheel were over.Oh, you can guess what’s coming, can’t you?
In the two years since then he has been trying hard to kick the habit - and even invested in a fake electronic cigarette to help him.
But today the father of one will be in court to fight possible fines of up to £2,700 for smoking in a public place and dropping ash.Now, maybe he’s telling the truth, and maybe he isn’t. I guess it will all hinge on the photographic testimony.
He claims a council enforcement officer mistook the fake cigarette for a real one when she spotted Mr Minihan during his rest-break at a picnic area.
But if this thing really is indistinguishable from a real cigarette, then I don’t see how the prosecution can prove their case…
The officer took three photographs of Mr Minihan's tanker at the Wigg Island nature reserve in Runcorn, Cheshire, which is managed by Halton Borough Council.And the company backed him. Not just with moral support, but with money:
He said: 'If she had approached me on the day I could have shown her what I was doing and the whole thing could've been nipped in the bud then.
'Instead, I only found out what she had done when an official arrived at the company yard two days later to issue me with the fixed penalty notices.'
He will represent himself in court, but the firm has offered to pay any costs if he loses the case.Which the BBC reports he now has:
Brian Howells, chairman of the bench, said his story was "consistent" but described the enforcement officer as a credible witness and found in favour of the council.