THE CHAIRMAN of a South Somerset parish council has denied charges of dangerous driving and possession of cannabis when he stood in the dock at Taunton Crown Court.

Christian Guppy, who is the chairman of Horton Parish Council, entered a not guilty plea to the allegation of dangerous driving, after he was arrested on March 4 this year in his blue Ford Fiesta on A358 between Taunton and Ilminster.

Guppy, 33, of St Peters Close, also pleaded not guilty to possession of a class B drug, namely cannabis, and that he was in violation of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

The court heard that, although the cannabis was found in Guppy’s car, his defence is that they were not his drugs and he was unaware they were in his car until police told him.

Emma Martin, defending, said: “He has been taking cannabis, but not that cannabis. That was his friend’s cannabis.

“He understands that the trial will be an uphill battle.”

Judge David Ticehurst said: “If there are drugs in his car then they are under his control.”

Judge Ticehurst addressed the defendant, asking if he felt he had a defence to the allegations, to which Guppy replied, “I would like to think so, it wasn’t my weed.”

Judge Ticehurst said: “It doesn’t matter, it was in your possession. The dangerous driving, what was your defence there, that that was perfectly acceptable driving?”

The trial is expected to last one day. A date has not yet been set.

The prosecution has been given until July 20 to serve all their necessary papers, which is set to include a bad character application.

The final date for disclosure from both sides is September 14.

Judge Ticehurst added: “It may be, and I hope, that you see sense and listen to Mrs Martin.

“It is like a school boy going in front of a headmaster and saying ‘no, no, no, it wasn’t me,’ and then the headmaster finding out it was them.”

Guppy was also warned that he will not receive any guilty plea credit if he is found guilty after a trial.

At a council meeting earlier this month, Guppy faced questions from a member of the public over the alleged offences and whether he should stand down as chairman.

Charlotte Duff, the clerk for Horton Parish Council, said: “The conversation was not minuted as it was not a parish council matter.

“Christian is due to stand trial for motoring offence in the near future.

“Having spoken to SALC (Somerset Association of Local Councils) on Tuesday following the meeting they have confirmed to me that Christian does not have to stand down pending trial.”

Guppy has been released on bail.