COUNTY NEWS: Pensioner in prison for Christmas after refusing to pay council tax

Bexhill Town Hall SUS-160623-112311001

Bexhill Town Hall SUS-160623-112311001

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A pensioner who refuses to pay Council Tax as he claims it is used to ‘fund terrorism’ will spend Christmas behind bars.

Christopher Coverdale from Rye was handed a 28-day prison sentence at Hastings Magistrates’ Court in the latest of a string of court appearances following enforcement action by Rother District Council.

Coverdale, formerly of The Mint, Rye, and now of no fixed abode, was arrested at a friend’s house in the town and taken to court last Thursday (December 8) after failing to answer a summons for non-payment of Council Tax.

The 70-year-old told district judge Teresa Szagun he would not pay the £1,096.49 owed for this financial year as it was used by the Government ‘to fund terrorism’.

After he warned her she herself would be committing a criminal offence if she ordered him to pay, Judge Szagun told the defendant she had no alternative but to hand down an immediate custodial sentence.

Coverdale served a 42-day jail term last year and has previously received two suspended prison sentences for non-payment of Council Tax.

Cllr Lord Ampthill, Rother District Council cabinet member for finance, resources and value for money, said: “It beggars belief that Mr Coverdale persists in what he must realise is a futile argument.

“Our officers have on numerous occasions offered to assist him with his bill if he was struggling to pay, but he has failed to respond and insists on pursuing this self-destructive course of action.

“Council tax is not used by the Government for wars or any other purpose – it is used here in Rother to pay for the services we all use, such as waste collection, schools and roads maintenance.”

Coverdale first appeared before magistrates in October 2013, the first of a string of court hearings over his refusal to pay his council tax.

His defence that paying council tax is illegal because it is used by the Government ‘to fund illegal wars’ has previously been dismissed at the High Court and Court of Appeal, where it was deemed to be ‘frivolous’ and to have ‘no merit’.

Coverdale was also jailed in July 2015 after a suspended sentence for non-payment is activated.

However he was freed after just a few hours in custody when a friend paid the outstanding amount in full.

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