AN Ilminster man who owed more than £3,000 in court fines managed to escape jail by the skin of his teeth when his father bailed him out with a payment.

Christopher Hopkins had previously appeared in court for non-payment of fines and had been given a suspended committal after being found guilty of culpable neglect.

With the threat of prison hanging over him the 31-year-old, of The Crescent, appeared in the witness box before Somerset Magistrates at Yeovil.

The court heard that Hopkins owed a total sum of £3,431.67 and was currently £240 in arrears with his payments.

He was brought back before the court in June last year and ordered to pay £40 a month or he would have to serve 54 days in prison in default.

Defending solicitor Greg Peters said that Hopkins was a self-employed carpenter and there were difficulties at home which had impacted on his ability to work.

“He has now moved back in with his parents and is reliant on them after being signed off work with depression and was prescribed medication,” he said.

“However things have now started to improve and he now has three or four months of work lined up ahead of him and his father has agreed to pay £240 today on his behalf.

“He has adopted the ostrich approach of burying his head in the sand but is in no doubt as to the precarious position he is in today.”

The magistrates told the defendant that they were not going to send him to prison and said he should be very grateful that his father had stepped in to help.

"Our patience has run out, however we recognise that you are going to get back into employment and you must keep your payments up or you will be going to prison," they said.