A father on a six-figure income who claimed he earned £175 a week to avoid paying child maintenance has been handed a suspended prison sentence.
Neil Terrance Teasdale, 40, from Middlesbrough, owes more than £60,000 in support to his former partner, but attempted to hide his wealth to reduce what he paid for the care of his child.
The offshore worker earned £100,000 a year as the sole director and shareholder of two companies, but lied to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), the Government department responsible for ensuring parents pay their child support, about his six-figure salary.
Mr Teasdale instead claimed he earned just £175 a week and deliberately hid his “lucrative earnings” to avoid paying child maintenance. He dodged £11,000 in support by lying to the CMS, but already owed tens of thousands of pounds for the care of his child.
Mr Teasdale pleaded guilty to three offences of fraud by misrepresentation following an investigation by the CMS. At Teesside Crown Court on Tuesday, he was sentenced to a year imprisonment on each offence suspended for two years. He was also ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and 20 rehabilitation days.
The judge stated that had Mr Teasdale not paid £1,000 towards the accrued debts last week, the sentence would not have been suspended.
George Ward, of Mersey Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said the wealthy father had “deliberately and dishonestly” under-declared his income to avoid paying the correct rate of child maintenance.
Mr Ward added: “By lying about the true extent of his income, he has deprived the mother of much needed money to help bring up their child. Bank statement evidence revealed that his income was a lot higher than he declared in the payslips he submitted to the CMS.”
Baroness Deborah Stedman-Scott, parliamentary under secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions, branded the case “particularly shameful”.
If a parent does not pay outstanding child support in a “reasonable amount of time” the CMS can pursue the debts by selling property and assets.
Both parents are responsible for the costs of raising their children, even if one parent is absent, and a support plan can either be arranged privately or through the CMS. The vast majority of parents – 93pc – who must pay child support are male.
The share of parents paying their child support has steadily declined over the past year and more than £474m of maintenance was outstanding at the end of March, according to official figures.
Earlier this year, the CMS revealed plans to fit parents who refuse to pay child support with an electronic tag and put them under curfew in a crackdown on tens of thousands of neglectful fathers.
The CMS can already ask courts to confiscate passports and driving licences, deduct outstanding maintenance from earnings and send offending parents to prison.