Court bill rockets from �70 to �700 for struggling Ely dad

AN Ely man who chose to contest a speeding charge in court has seen his fine jump for �70 to an eye-watering �700 and now bailiffs are knocking on his door demanding payment.

Mark Kohne, of Deacon’s Lane, was hit with a �70 fine after police said speed cameras had recorded him travelling at 72mph on the A14 back in September 2011, a reading that he disputed.

The father-of-one requested a court hearing to argue his case and came up with a dossier of evidence, based around what he believed was a false reading from the camera.

As he was out of the country when his court date came up later that month, Mr Kohne sent all his evidence into magistrates by post and entered a not guilty plea.

Upon arriving back in the UK however, he found that the court had rejected his defence and added a bill for �625 in court costs to his original fine of �70.

Incensed, Mr Kohne made a further appeal to Ipswich Crown Court in January but his case was dismissed, though no further costs were added.

As he was unemployed at the time, Mr Kohne had to make weekly payments of �5 towards the fine, with some �110 paid before he found employment as a handyman and came off job seekers allowance.

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By his own admission, when his benefit payments stopped, Mr Kohne says he should have contacted Her Majesty’s Court Service to inform them of his changed circumstances but says he forgot and payments towards the fine therefore ceased.

Two months ago, and without warning, a letter from a bailiff company landed on his doormat, saying that an �85 late-payment fee had been added to his bill and that full payment of �670 was required by November 6.

Mr Kohne said: “I hold my hands up that I should have made the court aware that I was back in work but I had so much going on that I just forgot.

“There is no way I can afford to pay that much but there is no negotiating with the bailiffs, they are not interested in my circumstances and say they will add another �225 a month if I don’t pay.

“It’s a lot of money considering it was initially a �70 fine. The system is almost set up against people defending themselves in court.”

“I think people need warning that if you chose to contest a charge in court, you could be left with a huge bill and bailiffs knocking on your door, its very unfair.”