The ArgusFireworks factory boss in court (From The Argus)

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Fireworks factory boss in court

A firework factory boss swore and barged a police officer before being arrested on bonfire night, a court heard.

Martin Winter, owner of Festival Fireworks in Shortgate, near Ringmer, appeared at Lewes Magistrates' Court on the first of a two day trial today.

The 50-year-old pleaded not guilty to charges of disorderly behaviour and resisting arrest last November 5, during the Lewes Bonfire celebrations.

The prosecution said Winter became aggressive towards Sussex police inspector Martin Pattenden, who had set up a cordon at the bottom of School Hill at the junction with Friars Walk.

The cordon stopped Winter from passing through when he became separated from other members of Borough Firework Society, who had already passed through.

Prosecutor Ghulam Hussain said Winter repeatedly swore at Insp Pattenden and acted aggressively while carrying a flaming torch at about 8.50pm.

Sergeant Alan Burkby, formerly of Sussex Police but now of the Metropolitan Police, said he could smell alcohol on Winter's breath before he arrested him.

Charmaine Wilson, representing Winter, said her client did not swear or act aggressively and claims he should have been warned about his behaviour before he was arrested.

Firefighters Brian Wembridge and Geoff Wicker were killed in December 2006 tackling an explosion at the factory.

The building was destroyed in the blaze but Mr Winter has since been given planning permission to rebuild the operation.

Video footage, allegedly of his arrest, appeared on the YouTube website, where Mr Winter can be seen struggling on the floor with police officers. It was ruled inadmissible by the court.

The trial continues.

  • See the video footage here


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