A BUSINESSMAN has criticised police after a vandal who smashed his coffee shop window escaped with a fine.

Chris Pugh said he had been left with a £400 repair bill for the damage to the window of Sip, in King Street, Richmond.

The businessman is angry that police issued the man with an £80 penalty notice for disorder, rather than asking the Crown Prosecution Service to pursue the case through the courts.

Mr Pugh said that, if the man had been found guilty in a court, he would have been ordered to pay compensation for smashing the window.

He said: "The police arrived promptly, were professional and polite and arrested a male at the scene, who was taken to custody at Northallerton.

"However, he was then given an £80 penalty notice for disorder and that was the end of the story.

"I understand this was not the man's first offence and I understand that the victim should be consulted if the custody sergeant is considering dealing with the offence by means of a penalty notice. I was not.

"I, therefore, strongly believe this was not a situation where a penalty notice was appropriate and that justice has not been done."

Following the incident, Mr Pugh read a newspaper report about a soldier who appeared before Northallerton magistrates for making an obscene gesture at a policeman.

The coffee shop owner is furious that the soldier was taken to court when the offender who smashed his window was not.

Mr Pugh said: "Was this the same police force dealing with both incidents?

"How can anyone justify the actions for the first scenario and then go on to take the second one to court?"

Mr Pugh has written a letter of complaint to North Yorkshire Police to draw attention to the way he was treated.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said: "I can confirm that a letter has been received and a reply will be sent in due course, once the circumstances have been looked into.

"It's probably worth pointing out that, even if the offender had been brought before a court, there is no guarantee that the court would have awarded compensation.

"And the complainant does have the option of seeking compensation from the offender through the civil court."