A SECURITY firm owner whose business was badly hit when Pompey were relegated has avoided jail over not paying his council tax.
Former Hayling United manager Mark Poulton appeared at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court where he was given a 90-day suspended sentence.
The court heard he owes £4,964 in council tax to Havant Borough Council.
The bill spans from April 1, 2011 to March 31 this year.
The 53-year-old, of Kings Road, Hayling Island, told the court: ‘I run my own company, which is a security company, and through the last five years I’ve gone from having 200 staff to now having six staff.
‘I’ve lost a lot of contracts through companies going in-house.
‘I had a big contract through Portsmouth Football Club – they got relegated and I lost that.
‘It’s been a struggle for the last few years.’
He added: ‘I went through a break-up as well which obviously didn’t help.
‘That was a bit of a financial burden on me as well.’
Chairman of the magistrates Andy Dunning found Poulton guilty of culpable neglect over not paying the council tax.
He handed him a 90-day suspended jail term with an order to pay £100 each month.
If he does not pay the cash then he faces going to prison.
The court found no other method of enforcement was appropriate as magistrates believed Poulton, who runs Total Facilities, had means to pay in the past but chose not to pay the council tax debt.
Mr Poulton told the court he made offers to debt collection agency Ross & Roberts but these were not accepted.
He said he had paid the agency cash but only £64 had gone to the council.
Speaking after the case, Mr Poulton said he had received £120,000 from Pompey owed to him but had it in ‘dribs and drabs’ which contributed to his problem paying the tax.
But leader of the council, Councillor Michael Cheshire, said the authority is sympathetic to those who owe cash but it will not write off debt.
He said: ‘Havant Borough council hasn’t increased the council tax for the last six or seven years.
‘And so to those people who don’t pay their taxes that are due to keep the borough running – we will do whatever is necessary to retrieve those taxes.
‘If that means it has to go to court then it goes to court.
‘We are sympathetic with all the things that we do before it goes to court and we do everything we can to help those who owe back taxes to help them pay.
‘But what we don’t do is write them off.
‘We’re fully and totally in the hands of the law.’