A man whose catheter bag 'erupted' while he was driving in Worthing has been handed a parking ticket for pulling over to dry himself off.
John McCartney was driving along Chapel Road in Worthing on January 9 this year when the flange on his catheter bag, a plastic valve which fastened to a hole in his abdomen, fell off and more than a litre of urine drenched his clothes and car seat.
His first thought was to dry himself off and reattach his bag as soon as possible - so he pulled into parking spaces behind the Guildbourne Centre so he could sort himself out in the Slug and Lettuce toilets.
He said: "There is no alternative; your kidneys continue to produce urine and it is squirting out all the time.
"It was a big leak; probably the biggest I have ever had."
He dried off his clothes using the hand dryers and stuck on a fresh flange and bag, which he said took 15 minutes, and returned to his car - but a parking attendant was already there to issue a ticket. According to One Parking Solutions, which owns the parking spaces, the attendant got there at 2.49pm and issued the ticket at 2.54pm.
The 70-year-old said in hindsight, he wished he had spoken to the attendant when he got in his car - but he was too preoccupied with getting back to his home in Boundary Road, Lancing, so he could have a wash.
About two days later, the retired carpenter received a £60 fine which would increase to £100 if he did not pay within 14 days.
He said: "I just think it is absolutely ridiculous. Someone should have had the sense to see that I was in a bit of a predicament and I was pretty low on options.
"Have some consideration and use your IQ; people have accidents."
On August 3, he received a letter from debt collectors ZZPS Ltd stating he now owed £170, including late payment and debt recovery charges, followed by another letter on August 17 threatening to pass the matter onto solicitors, when the balance would increase by £30 plus VAT.
Mr McCartney appealed the decision on the grounds it was a medical emergency - but POPLA, Parking on Private Land Appeals, refused it because he did not display a valid permit.
In the refusal letter dated August 23, POPLA said it 'acknowledged the appellant's version of events', but added: "Even if a motorist presents circumstances setting out reasons why they did not keep to the parking conditions, POPLA cannot allow an appeal if a contract was formed and the motorist did not keep to the parking conditions.
"As the appellant parked at the site and failed to display a valid permit, he has failed to comply with its terms and conditions."
The Men in Sheds Durrington group member had his bladder removed in 2012 after being diagnosed with bladder cancer, and is now in remission. But he has to wear his catheter bag 24 hours a day, changing it every three days. "It is part of my body now; it was either a bag or a box, as my surgeon said," he said.
Mr McCartney described One Parking Solutions' handling of the fine and POPLA's appeal process as 'draconian', and said he was prepared to go down the legal route.
He said: "I told them right from the start that I would be prepared to go court, stand up in front of someone sensible and show them what a flange looks like and how it can leak."
One Parking Solutions did not respond to the paper's request for comment.