Unrepentant that bailiffs sent to boy

The Ministry of Justice remains unrepentant for sending ''burly'' debt collectors to the home of a 16-year-old Oamaru boy, and is warning other teenage motorists age is no excuse for not paying fines.

The boy's mother, who did not wish to be identified, said she and her son had been left feeling ''intimidated'', when they were visited by debt collectors last Thursday.

''There were two of them, they were great big burly blokes. One of them was on the doorstep and the other was at the letterbox to make sure no-one ran off.''

She said her son received the motoring fines when he was 15. They were put on hold until he could find work. As he still had no job they were unaware any payment was due.

''He's only 16.

"I don't know what they were trying to take.''

However, the ministry's acting general manager of collections, Karen Walfisch, said the ministry had no age restriction on people to whom it sent bailiffs to collect fines.

''While there isn't an age restriction on enforcement action, we acknowledge that a 16-year-old may have a limited ability to pay and this is taken into account when considering payment arrangements.''

Ms Walfisch said the issue arose over three unpaid fines, totalling almost $900, which had been put on hold until June 2012, in order to help the boy find a means of payment, but he had failed to contact court officials to make arrangements after that period ended.

''The court bailiff visited him on Thursday and was able to help him come up with an automatic repayment, which is often a more realistic way for people with limited means to deal with their fines and reparation.''

She said the payment of fines and reparation could be organised by phoning the court on 0800 4FINES or going online at www.fines.govt.nz.

''The court has a range of enforcement tools if required, but sustainable payment arrangements are always the preference.''

andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz