Father threatened with prison for not paying child maintenance

Posted On 24 Jan 2023 at 1:44 pm

Brighton Magistrates’ Court

A Brighton father who failed to pay child maintenance for five years has been told to repay what he owes within weeks or go to prison.

Connor Disano, 29, told Brighton Magistrates Court he hadn’t realised he owed the money because he struggles with dyslexia and ADHD, so his mum opens his post.

After he failed to respond to several letters or turn up to a previous court hearing where he was ordered to pay the outstanding amount, the Child Maintenance Service was able to access his bank account.

They saw that he was spending thousands on non-essential shopping, takeaways and nights out – while not paying any regular rent or utility bills.

On Friday, he offered to pay £100 a week on top of regular child maintenance payments for his eight-year-old daughter.

Prosecuting, Neil Fuller from the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) said the court had granted a liability order for £2,337.72 against him in October 2021, but he had not paid anything at all since then.

He said: “No payments were forthcoming. Debt collectors were unable to collect the amount.

“We sent a letter on 18 April, 2022 informing him of the debt and a final warning in November, but have had no response.

“His bank account details were obtained from Halifax. It showed that in the 26 weeks to May 2022 he paid in £15,600 and spent £11,000 on groceries and fuel.

“He also spent £4,600 on non-essential expenditure such as retail, leisure and fast food takeaways.

“We say he has been culpably neglectful in not making payments.”

Disano, of Brentwood Road, represented himself. He told the court: “It’s been hard for me to make payments because I have ADHD and dyslexia.

“My mum deals with the paperwork side of things. My mum does everything for me.

“I was employed by someone and the CMS payments were coming out every week and then I changed jobs and the same amount was coming out.

“I was tying to get through to them but I couldn’t get through.”

Chair of the bench Ian Goodwin said: “We do find there has been culpable neglect.

“We are giving you 14 days in custody, suspended, because you have made an offer that’s acceptable of £100 a week.

“If you don’t make the payments you could very well go to prison for two weeks.”

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