Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Friday, 10 July 2009 11:10 UK

Shop's joke billboards cause stir

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan owns the Candy Box in Horsham

A shop owner has said he was threatened with prosecution after displaying joke billboards at his store in Horsham.

John O'Sullivan, who owns the Candy Box, put up spoof news headlines outside his store for 10 weeks in an attempt to entertain his customers.

The spoof headlines included "Crawley Girl Gives Birth to Pitbull" and "Local Youths Abduct UFO".

Sussex Police denied he was threatened with arrest but the local council said it had asked him to take one sign down.

Mr O'Sullivan said: "The policewoman came in and was very strict and said the boards have got to stop. She asked if I realised I could be arrested.

At no point did we suggest that he could be arrested - although if there was a law about having a dodgy sense of humour, there might well be a case
Sussex Police

"If everyone hated them and thought they were wrong I would stop but people are laughing at them."

But the police said: "While passing on routine patrol last month an officer did have a friendly conversation with the shop owner.

"At no point did we suggest that he could be arrested - although if there was a law about having a dodgy sense of humour, there might well be a case.

"Full marks to him for clever advertising though."

But the local council said it had asked Mr O'Sullivan to remove one of the posters.

A spokesman for Horsham District Council said: "We can confirm that the council has received recent complaints about what has been written on the A-board outside the shop.

"As a message posted there was considered to be potentially offensive, a street scene officer from the council asked for its removal."

The latest sign on display reads "Candy Box Owner Threatened with Arrest over Funny Boards" and Mr O'Sullivan has vowed to continue displaying the tongue-in-cheek adverts.

Candy Box customer Shirley Arlington said: "It's crazy. John's just having a laugh and he's making other people laugh too."



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