AN Oswestry businessman who owes nearly £4,000 in child support has been ordered to pay it or go to prison.

Hezekiah Roberts, 35, appeared at court in Welshpool this week, where magistrates handed him a suspended prison sentence for his failure to pay £3,964.28 in child support, in a dispute dating back to August 2017.

A liability order was made against Roberts, who owns a plumbing business, by Birmingham Magistrates’ Court in July 2022. Roberts most recently attended court in January of this year, when he agreed he would pay the amount in two instalments.

However, he was then hospitalised in March and had his gall bladder removed, resulting in him being out of work, which is why he said he has not paid anything yet.


Magistrates sitting in Welshpool on Tuesday, May 7, told Roberts, of Ascot Road, Oswestry, that they found culpable neglect on his part, and said that if the full amount was not paid by June he would go to prison for 42 days.

Matthew Wheeler, prosecuting the case on behalf of the Child Maintenance Service, said he was seeking either a committal to prison or a disqualification from holding or obtaining a driving licence for Roberts for non-payment of child support.

He said the period of non-payment covered from August 2017 to April 2022.

“Mr Roberts attended court on January 16 and agreed to pay the full amount in two lump sums,” said Mr Wheeler.

“He hasn’t. We’ve received no payments. He has provided reasons for why not. His total arrears are £8,000.

“He is the director of his own company, E.R Plumbing and Heating Ltd. It is up to the court to decide if he’s demonstrated wilful refusal or culpable neglect.

“If proved you can send him to prison or remove his driving licence. Evidence shows the defendant has had the means to pay child maintenance but has chosen not to, so this is culpable neglect.

“The case was adjourned previously on good will, now we would like the court to consider the options.”

Representing himself, Roberts said: “I had all intentions of paying, I want to pay, but something came up with my health.

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“I was admitted to hospital on March 20 with abdominal pain, then operated on. I had my gall bladder and gallstones removed, and had potential blood poisoning.

“It is my first week back in work next week. I 100 per cent want to pay it, I know it doesn’t look good.”

Roberts said he had put forward a proposal to pay £500 a month, but magistrates said the full amount needed paying by June 18. 

“We have found this is culpable neglect,” said chair of the bench, Stephen Pembroke.

“You’ve spent two months not doing anything about it. This is very serious and we don’t feel you’ve been taking it as seriously as you should have.”

They jailed Roberts for 42 days, but suspended the sentence on agreement that two payments are made by May 21 and June 18.