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VIDEO: ‘He’s a lovely man and loves those birds’ says friend of jailed Morecambe Birdman

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A friend of a Morecambe pensioner who was jailed for feeding pigeons is organising a mass public bird feed calling for him to be released.

Rita Patton and other supporters of John Wilkinson will gather at The Battery on Morecambe Promenade this Saturday from 1.30pm.

They are outraged at the fact that Mr Wilkinson was sent to prison for six weeks for breaching an Asbo for constantly feeding pigeons.

The Morecambe Birdman frequently can be seen in the town, pushing a trolley with a bag of feed.

“He is a lovely gentleman, very intelligent and he absolutely loves those birds,” said Rita.

“When I worked at Tesco, a guy came in and threw a bin at me, and John was the only person who stuck up for me. He’s been such a caring person to me and my daughter.

“I’ve had about 60 people confirm they are coming so far and messages of support from Liverpool and Huddersfield.”

Rita has also started an online Facebook petition to Free the Local Birdman which already has more than 500 members.

“When he comes home I will show him that people care about him,” she said.

“He knew he was going to prison but I don’t think he realised what it would be like. I’m going to visit him.”

Jo Bailey, who lives in Middleton, said she would attend the protest.

“To serve an ASBO on an elderly chap is absolutely ridiculous.

“This is his life. They are turning him into a criminal when there’s people leaving needles around the West End.

“The chap has received verbal abuse from youths and had his (trolley) tipped over. Where are the ASBOs for them?

“People are saying pigeons are ‘flying rats’ and spread disease. But he’s been doing this for 50 years and there’s nothing wrong with him.”

Neighbours have been complaining to Lancaster City Council for years about the noise, droppings and disease caused by the enormous number of pigeons gathering to be fed near Mr Wilkinson’s home on Cavendish Road in the West End.

Under the conditions of his Asbo, Mr Wilkinson was not allowed to feed any birds in his home or within 100 metres of his address; feed any birds in England and Wales outside of the exclusion zone unless the feeding takes place twice a day between the hours of 9.30am and 10.30am, then 3.30pm and 5pm, in a location that cannot be the same location in the morning and afternoon; and no more than half a kilo of bird seed to be fed to the birds at any one time; feed any birds in England and Wales outside the exclusion zone any other foodstuffs or bird food, except bird seed; aid, abet or incite others to feed any bird within England and Wales.

Mr Wilkinson was brought before Lancaster Magistrates’ Court on a count of breaching his Asbo on February 25, 2014; the third time the council began prosecution proceedings in relation to his breach of the order.

Mr Wilkinson pleaded guilty.

 

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