A SERIAL street drinker with 85 convictions who has been banned from the town centre says he plans to change his ways by switching from cider to beer.

Mark Dooley admitted being drunk and disorderly after aggressively begging outside The George Hotel, in Colchester High Street, last month.

During the altercation, at about 6.40pm on September 6, the 52-year-old was loudly swearing at people.

When he was approached by staff and council zone wardens, he became aggressive towards them.

He then walked towards Head Street where he headbutted a number of shop windows and was then spotted urinating in Balkerne Passage. He was arrested shortly afterwards.

Dooley has 85 convictions for 161 previous offences – 11 of which have been for drunk and disorderly.

He said: “It was a stupid action on my behalf.

“I get a bit loud and I was out of order.”

He told the court he had been drinking cider on the day which does “funny things” to his brain but had now switched to beer which suits him better.

Magistrates said they would have fined him £80 for the offence but said the fine would be considered paid if Dooley spent the rest of the day in the cells at the court. He still owes close to £2,000 in unpaid fines.

Dooley was also arrested in Crouch Street on Saturday after he became drunk and aggressive to officers.

As a result of the incident, he is said to have breached a community protection notice.

He has been charged with both offences and will appear in court again next month.

Until then, he has been banned from going into Colchester town centre, except to attend appointments which have been arranged previously.

If Dooley is seen in the town centre during the next four weeks, he will have breached both his fresh bail conditions and the notice and he could be arrested and charged again.

Dooley’s address is listed as Bird Lane, in Tiptree, but is staying with friends in Stanway.

Insp Danielle Booth, of Essex Police, said: “Through the Safer Colchester Partnership we work with a range of agencies, charities and community groups, to develop and co-ordinate a number of initiatives to support rough sleepers.

“But we will not tolerate antisocial behaviour or aggressive begging, as in the case of Dooley, and we remain committed to taking action against anyone causing harm and committing crime.”

A spokesperson for Colchester Council added: “By boosting the resources available to both the council and police, the Town Centre Action Plan (TCAP) aims to tackle crime and improve community safety by calling time on aggressive begging, street drinking, anti-social behaviour and drug use or selling in the town centre.”

“TCAP intends to target those involved in criminal activity or who are being violent, aggressive or abusive, not the genuinely homeless whose particular needs are being addressed by our specialist outreach coordinators and housing services.”