A Wigan dad has been handed a suspended jail sentence for refusing to pay hundreds of pounds in child support.
Gary Kenyon, of Greenwood Avenue, appeared before Wigan magistrates facing a prison sentence for failing to make regular child support payments for the past three years.
The 32-year-old roofer owes £1014.12 to the Child Support Agency despite receiving numerous reminders to pay and threats of action.
Prosecutor for the agency, Rose McDonald, told magistrates that the CSA sought to send Kenyon to prison or to disqualify him from driving as a punishment for refusing to pay the money he owed.
“This is the most serious sanction that the agency uses,” Ms McDonald told the court. “An application was made in 2015 for his son. He was aware of the application and maintenance estimates calculated from the initial assessment were £24.42 a week.”
After refusing to pay for a year, future reviews were carried out which eventually saw these payments drop to £7 a week - but no money was received by the agency.
As a self-employed roofer, the authorities did not find it appropriate to take the money directly from his earnings as they varied from week to week.
Finally, in 2016, Kenyon made an agreement with bailiffs to pay the money off, initially resolving £720 of the now £1,734 backlog.
An investigation discovered that the fee dodger had made numerous payments to McDonalds, Subway and other eateries and leisure establishments.
The court also heard how Kenyon, who earns £400 a week, lives at home with his mum and has no outgoings.
Ms McDonald told magistrates: “There was an ability to pay but he refused. His liberty is at risk. We don’t really want him to go to prison. We do want him to pay it. He says he thinks he can clear that in a relatively short period.”
Kenyon, who was not represented during the hearing, spoke only briefly to magistrates, saying: “I do want to pay it. I have just started work full-time again.
“I would like to pay it off and get it sorted. I wouldn’t want this again.”
Magistrates gave Kenyon a six-month suspended sentence on the agreement that he will pay the money in full in the agreed time of six weeks.