Sunday September 6,2009
By Eugene Henderson
THE Child Support Agency has been accused of threatening to take a teenager’s pony to help pay £45,000 to the mother she no longer wants to see.
Emma Chapelhow, 13, was left distraught after debt collectors told her her beloved pony Pringle was among the assets they would seize to settle the unpaid bill.
Her father David, 42, who has been involved in a decade-long battle with his ex-partner and the CSA, faces ruin because of what he says are his ex- partner’s “outlandish” claims about his lifestyle and a flawed system he can do nothing to challenge.
The former graphic artist is being ordered to find the £45,000 even though Emma lives with him and there is a court order in force preventing her mother, Janette Plummer, having direct access to the girl.
He says over the years he has spent up to £150,000 on legal bills to fight for his daughter, much of which was borrowed. Now CSA bosses say if he could have afforded the huge fees and a rambling farmhouse, he must be able to pay off his ex-partner. The CSA is pursuing Mr Chapelhow because it has ruled his lifestyle is inconsistent with his income.
“My ex-partner has filled their heads with stories of luxury foreign holidays, Range Rovers, horses and houses,” he said. “I have paid some maintenance but was not made aware of any monies outstanding until 2005. The figure owing went from £22,000 in 2008 to £43,000 just a year later.”
Mr Chapelhow, whose health has suffered because of the stress, and his wife Gair moved out of their farm- house in Wellow, Notts, and are living in a caravan in the yard while they rent their house as a holiday home.
“I’ve spent almost everything I had fighting for my daughter. I won that battle but now I could end up losing all I’ve got,” he said. “I’ve had the baliffs round here twice this week and they were telling Emma that her pony would be taken. If they go for a full enforcement order they could sell my house from under me. That’s the only real asset I’ve got.