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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 August 2006, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Court refuses man's 4,000 pennies
Michael Rees
Mr Rees said it was 'funny' to watch court staff counting the coins
A man who wants to pay "every penny" of his fine for careless driving in one penny pieces has been banned from paying the 40 instalments in copper.

Michael Rees, 41, of Tonteg, south Wales, was told the court did not have to accept the 4,000 coins.

He said his 2003 conviction was a "raw deal" and that he was prepared to go to jail if he could not pay in coins.

Rhondda magistrates said the Coinage Act of 1971 meant the court did not have to take more than 20p in copper.

Mr Rees, was convicted of careless driving by Rhondda magistrates in 2003 and was told to pay a 250 fine. An unsuccessful appeal added 400 costs.

He has so far paid 540, but only by going to a bank and changing his 40 instalments into 4,000 one penny pieces.

It means staff have to spend two or three hours counting out pennies and bagging them
Court clerk Steve Miller

He said: "This is the way I feel. I could not prove my innocence.

"I take all the pennies out of each individual bag. I rip the bags open and I empty them in a big sack so it gives them a job to count them. It's funny to watch.

"They are refusing to accept any more of my money in pennies. There is no such thing as the Coinage Act. It is legal tender, it belongs to the Queen.

"If I am not allowed to pay the pennies then I'm going to be in contempt of court. I'm willing to go to prison for it.

"I'm going to pay it the way I feel I should pay it. I've been dealt a raw deal. I'm unemployed and I'm struggling to pay."

'Aggrieved'

The clerk to the Miskin, Cynon Valley and Merthyr Tydfil magistrates' courts, Steve Miller, defended the right not to accept the coppers as legal tender.

He said: "Mr Rees is not unique. I have had a number of people who feel aggrieved about a financial penalty and try to pay the fines in pennies.

"It does happen every now and again. If someone is trying to make a point, really I will always say no.

"The reason we have always said no is it means staff have to spend two or three hours counting out pennies and bagging them.

"Staff are employed to be doing different things from that."

Mr Miller said exceptions were made for "genuine cases".

A spokesman for HM Court Service said: "Anything over 20p in bronze is not legal tender. You don't have to accept it."




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