Ultimatum for Alfredton man on unpaid fines

AN ALFREDTON man who racked up almost $40,000 of fines has been given an ultimatum: pay up or spend three months in jail.

Michael Pemberton, 31, appeared in Ballarat Magistrates Court yesterday over the fines, which began to accumulate before 2010.

Pemberton’s lawyer Hamish Locke said his client accrued most of the fines on City Link toll roads because he didn’t get an e-tag, thinking it had to be paid by credit card.

Mr Locke said Pemberton didn’t have a credit card because he didn’t trust himself with one.

In total the father-of-three amassed 150 fines worth $39,811.40.

“As it transpires, he’s gotten himself into some debt because he didn’t have a credit card,” Mr Locke said.

“He was tempted to use the toll roads and it accumulated horrifyingly quickly.

“It got to the point they became insurmountable.”

Mr Locke said Pemberton simply put the infringement notices in a drawer rather than pay them on time, before the amount he owed became “massively inflated” with fines.

“From my knowledge the original toll is not a large amount,” he said.

The court heard that Pemberton had also received fines for six speeding matters and two parking tickets, all of which remained unpaid.

Mr Locke urged the court not to place his client, a stay-at-home dad with three young children, on a prison-in-lieu scenario, but the submission was rejected. 

Magistrate Andrew McKenna said the threat of jail would help Pemberton to start paying his fines.

“It’s a guillotine dangling there waiting for the miss of one payment,” he said.

However, Mr McKenna did reduce Pemberton’s fines to $13,280 and ordered he pay $150 per month, starting at the end of November. 

If he fails to make a payment he faces up to 95 days in prison.

“It won’t be very good if your children can’t see you because you’re locked up,” Mr McKenna said.

“Make sure you pay it.”