Offender avoids jail over 8-year compo dodge

Crime news
Crime news

A WIGAN man who still owes more than £1,300 in compensation following a conviction more than eight years ago has narrowly avoided an immediate jail term.

Stuart Cartwright was ordered to pay £2,247 to a victim following a conviction in Bolton in July 2005.

But Wigan Magistrates’ Court heard that in the last eight-and-a-half years the 28-year-old has paid just £936. Astonishingly, the last registered payment was made in October 2009.

The court heard how Cartwright, of Scholes, Scholes, started paying the fine in instalments while working in the Grand Arcade but the bailiffs were sent in after he lost his job and his payments stopped. After the bailiffs were unable to gain access to his home, Cartwright secured employment with the fast food chain Subway and payments were restarted via an attachment to earnings deduction.

But those payments were irregular following mistakes by Subway and stopped altogether in 2009. Cartwright continued to work for Subway until 2010 but subsequently made no attempt to contact the fines office to ensure that his payments had continued.

For the last three years he has worked as a chef on a zero hours contract and hasn’t paid a penny.

Melissa Fagin, defending, said her client could not understand why the payments stopped in 2009 and claimed he assumed the entire fine had been paid. He made a new offer of £40 a month to the court.

Justices accused Cartwright of burying his head in the sand and warned him that any further defaults would result in jail. They told him: “This is a serious offence and we have considered custody. We’re sentencing you to 27 days’ custody but will suspend that as long as we receive payments of £60 a month. The first payment must be within 28 days.

“The court has taken every step to enforce this order and, when you stopped working at Subway, you should have contacted the accounts office.

“This order is some eight years old. You have been in employment for three years and paid nothing.

“We do not believe you thought the fine had been paid - you just buried your head in the sand.”