ENGLAND – Jail for Billingham dad who failed to pay child support

A TEESSIDE dad who owes thousands in unpaid child support has been jailed by a court.

Simon Heseltine had previously been given a suspended jail term for non-payment of child maintenance.

And yesterday he was ordered to serve a 25-day prison sentence by Teesside Magistrates’ Court.

The Child Support Agency pointed out that jail terms were “very rare” and were only imposed “as a last resort” after other avenues have been exhausted.

A court heard how Heseltine, 46, of Billingham, had originally owed just short of £5,000 after a liability order was granted against him in 2007.

But he failed to make payments and at a court hearing in January 2009 he was found guilty of wilful refusal to pay child maintenance.

Heseltine, of Sledmere Road, was ordered to pay the sum at the rate of £20 a week and given a 30-day suspended sentence.

But there were further failures to pay despite the suspended sentence hanging over him.

Teesside Magistrates’ Court was told that he still owed just over £3,400 in child support.

Solicitor Paul Dixon, representing Heseltine, said the defendant was out of work and couldn’t afford to pay £20 a week.

Mr Dixon said: “With the best will in the world he can’t afford to pay £40 a fortnight.”

The magistrates jailed him for a period of 25 days.

A spokesperson for the Child Support Agency said: “Imprisonment for failure to pay child maintenance is very rare and is always taken as a last resort.

“We do everything we can to secure the money owed to children using other enforcement measures first.

“The decision to commit someone to prison is taken by magistrates, who must be satisfied that a parent has wilfully refused or culpably neglected to meet their financial responsibilities.”

Permanent link to this article: http://operationfatherhood.org/dwp-department-for-work-and-pensions/child-maintenance/england-jail-for-billingham-dad-who-failed-to-pay-child-support/