A WELL-known Southampton hot dog vendor has been hauled before the courts for a TENTH time.

Ian Kruger, better known as “Happy Hotdog Man”, was caught selling his products on Above Bar Street – despite already being told he couldn’t.

But the father-of-four blamed his poor financial situation and told magistrates he “didn’t want to end up on benefits”.

Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard how Kruger and other street sellers are banned from peddling products in Above Bar Street by a city by-law.

The order bans unauthorised trading in the Above Bar Street “necessary to ensure that pedestrian safety is not compromised and sufficient space is available in an emergency”.

But despite already being threatened with a prison sentence in the past for breaching the order, Kruger returned to his favoured selling spot in April last year.

He was spotted by council officers and handed a warning, telling him that he faced legal action if he was caught after a seven day period.

But by December, Kruger had returned to Above Bar Street, where he was spotted by council officers.

The 56-year-old pleaded guilty to breaching the order, but said: “I broke the order to get some money.

“I needed to pay off bills that were building up. I fully understood what I was doing.

“I needed money. I haven’t claimed benefits my whole life and I have no intention of starting now.

“I want to work with my hands and pay my own way.”

Kruger told the court his financial situation had since improved and he was working at organised events, earning approximately £12,000 a year.

Magistrates opted to fine Kruger £230.

Lead magistrate Lena Samuels said: “It goes without saying that you have previous offences, but as a person you come across extremely well.

“It is disappointing that you are doing this (breaching the order).

“The council sets down these regulations for a good reason, for the protection of the public.”

As well as a fine, Kruger, who gave his address as Waverley Green, Millbrook, was also ordered to pay £100 costs to Southampton City Council and a victim surcharge of £30.

After the case, he said the council and courts had been “fair” over the decision and promised to continue selling his hotdogs, legally.

Kruger last appeared before the magistrates in August 2016, when he said he was “making a stand” against the council order.

In April that year, he was one of a handful of angry pedlars who handed a 1,560-signature petition to Southampton City Council, protesting against the order.