THREE street drinkers named by police as the principal troublemakers in the town centre have been banned from drinking and gathering there indefinitely.

Andrew Dunn, 46, of Thornford Drive, Westlea, Kevin Wolton, 30, of Shaftesbury Avenue and David Coutts, 41, of Harding Street, did not contest their part in the rise in anti-social behaviour at the beginning of last year, which saw street drinkers account for 20 per cent of the police’s total workload in the area.

All three appeared at Swindon Magistrates’ Court yesterday for an all-day hearing, during which all three men were found in contempt of court and sent to the cells for persistent outbursts.

The men, who were part of a much larger group of between 30 to 40 associates, had all previously had six months under interim Anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos), but breaches led magistrates to apply full Asbos for each.

A fourth man, Martin Morgan, 27, of Pakenham Road, was given a further interim Asbo for another three months, after the court heard he had attempted to turn his life around.

Speaking outside court, Sgt Barry Reed said: “We are really pleased with the result and, after a year’s work, the main harm-causers have been dealt with. Hopefully this sends the right message and we now have enforceable measures to prevent these issues arising again.”

The court heard police launched Operation Arcadia after a 44 per cent rise in anti-social behaviour around the areas of the bus station and Tri-Centre area, later also spreading to Queens Park.

During the hearing, chair of the bench Geoffrey Earl was forced to send Coutts, Wolton and Dunn to the cells for contempt of court. At one point Wolton shouted: “I’d rather go to prison than put up with this, I’ve sorted my life out,” to which his solicitor Martin Guyll-Wiggins pleaded: “Please Kevin, my job is hard enough.”

Mr Guyll-Wiggins objected to the terms of the orders imposed that the men could not be in groups of three or more people in a public place, as this was too restrictive.

He said: “They have shown a positive response generally to the interim Asbos. I would ask for proportionality in terms of what these orders will do for society against the rights of the individuals they are set against. This order criminalises the most basic human behaviour, which is to associate with others.”

But magistrates banned the three from meeting in groups of three or more and having an open container of alcohol within the pre-existing no-drink zones in Old Town and the town centre – and barred them from going to the bus station and Tri-Centre. The orders apply for at least two years and any breach is a criminal offence.

Coutts was also banned from any council car park, while Dunn was told that he must have his dog leashed and muzzled at all times in public.