Mum fined for son's tumour 'truancy'


A Manchester mother of three has been ordered to pay a £405 fine - because her 24-year-old son missed school eight years ago to undergo cancer treatment.

Darilyn Rothwell, 51, said she was shocked to receive the letter from the Marston Group, an enforcement company acting on behalf of Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service, as she believed the matter had already been dealt with.

Her son, Chris Barlow, began complaining of severe headaches in 2004, and admits bunking off school as a result. But in January 2005, he was rushed to hospital after collapsing, and was placed on life support. He was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour, and has since undergone 22 operations.

The council took Mrs Rothwell to court at the time, claiming that she wasn't doing enough to get Chris back to school in Farnworth after his treatment, and imposing a fine of £220 with £110 costs in November 2004. However, Mrs Rothwell believed that the matter was closed after the case was thrown out by magistrates.

"If they had contacted me sooner I could have phoned and explained the situation, but this is the first I have heard of it - a letter coming though my door nine years later," she told the Bolton News. "It is ridiculous that they are chasing people this many years later."

The letter explains that the fine has now risen by an extra £85 because of costs from the debt enforcement company, and warns that if Mrs Rothwell does not pay up within seven days, her belongings could be seized and sold at public auction.

"We are investigating this incident as a matter of urgency," says a spokesman for Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service. "The family have been advised no further action will be taken until our investigation has concluded."