Grandmother's council tax shame
A GRANDMOTHER who became the first ever resident of North East Lincolnshire to be jailed for council tax has appeared in court again for exactly the same crime.
Widow Joy McNaught, 68, made the front page of the Grimsby Telegraph in October 2006 when she was sentenced to 28 days in prison after an unpaid bill since 2001 spiralled to £1,635.36.
After 15 court dates, six arrest warrants and a suspended sentence, magistrates finally said they had "no other option" but to jail the pensioner – then aged 63.
Now, she has appeared in court again – and could have potentially gone to prison for twice the time she had served before.
The money owed this time amounted to £1,678.78, and some of the total relates to the 2007/2008 tax year which started less than six months after she received her 28-day sentence in 2006.
Mrs McNaught, who lives in central Grimsby, owed £244.75 for the 2007/2008 tax year, £633 for 2008/2009 and £801.03 for 2009/2010.
She was first brought to court in October 2009 over culpable neglect and a judge ordered her to pay £25 a month or serve a two-month suspended sentence.
However, she did not do so and on January 5, she went before Grimsby Magistrates' Court and was ordered to pay £60 a month – to which she agreed – or serve two months in jail. She must make her first payment by February 1.
When approached by the Telegraph, Mrs McNaught said: "There are thousands of people who haven't paid their council tax – I don't know why they are picking on me.
"It is all sorted through the courts and has nothing to do with anyone else."
When she was sent to Wakefield Prison in 2006, a family member said: "She is so humiliated. She is simply a widow who was in bother financially and it spiralled out of control."
Since Mrs McNaught's court appearance, two more people have been before magistrates charged with non-payment of council tax.
The court was told that Steven Jackson, 33, of Grimsby, had failed to pay the tax, plus costs, totalling £2,429.21. He owed: £61.32 between September 2004 and January 2005; £116.68 between January 2005 and March 2005; £253.35 between April 2008 and October 2008; £169.91 between October 2008 and March 2009; £329.94 between April 2009 and June 2009; £292.62 between October 2009 and August 2010; and £965.39 between August 2010 and March 2012.
He was ordered to pay the full amount owed, or serve 45 days suspended, under culpable neglect. The council had given him extra time to pay, but this had not worked, so it was ordered that he pay £20 once a week.
Before the same court, Emma Gladding, of North Thoresby, appeared for non-payment of council tax, plus costs, totalling £1,328.09 between April 1, 2008, and March 31, 2009, and between April 1, 2009, and August 28, 2009.
She was ordered to pay £1,403.19 in default, or serve 40 days suspended, again under culpable neglect. Similarly, North East Lincolnshire Council had already given her extra time to pay, but this had been unsuccessful. Arrangements were made for her to pay £20 a week.