An angler’s unlicensed Preston Park fishing trip ended with a bill for more than £600 after magistrates’ bumped up his fine for failing to attend court.
Luke Johnson was due to appear at Teesside Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday morning to answer charges of fishing without a licence and fishing during an annual closed season.
But when the 26-year-old failed to attend court, the case was heard in his absence – with expensive results.
Simon Catterall, prosecuting, said that Johnson had been caught fishing using a fishing rod and line on a stretch of the River Tees at Preston Park on April 15 this year.
He said: “The period March 15 to June 15 is closed season for fishing.
“This period is the breeding season for the fish.
“He was asked to produce a licence but he didn’t have one.
“A system check found he had previously had them. All people over 12 need to have one – they cost £30.”
According to the Angling Trust website, people found guilty of unlicensed fishing have been able to escape a fine altogether in the past.
But at Teesside Magistrates’ Court, chairman of the bench, Alan Duckling, took a dim view of Johnson’s failure to attend court and, as a result bumped up the fine.
“Because he hasn’t turned up, we’re going to go up the scale,” he said.
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For fishing during an annual closed season and failing to pay for a £30 Environment Agency rod licence, Johnson, of Wykeham Close, Redcar , was fined £435.
He was also ordered to pay £127 costs and a £43 victim surcharge – bringing his bill up to £605 in total.
The maximum fine for fishing without a rod fishing licence is £2,500.
Children under 12 do not need a licence but children aged between 12 and 16 still need to get a junior licence which is free of charge.
To buy an Environment Agency rod licence visit www.gov.uk/get-a-fishing-licence .