A DESPERATE pensioner is fighting fines of £1,400 for journeys across the Dartford Crossing made in a car he sold while he was on holiday abroad.

When Ian Hubbard’s old Mercedes made seven journeys through the crossing, he was some 1,000 miles away in Spain.

But that excuse isn’t good enough for Highways England, which is responsible for the Dart Charge.

Mr Hubbard, 71, has been left to foot a rising bill, now totalling around £1,400, for the unpaid journeys.

He sold the car to its current owner on April 8, with the seven journeys made later that month.

Mr Hubbard said the new owner taxed and insured the vehicle and he went away on holiday confident the deal was done.

But when he arrived back at his home in May, he found the first bill on his doormat.

Now Mr Hubbard, chairman of Tendring Neighbourhood Watch, lives under the threat of bailiff action as the fines continue to rise.

He said: “I went away on April 17 and came back on May 2 to find the letters,” .

“I then sent the paperwork on to this guy who bought the car, but that was the wrong move.

“I have heard nothing at all from him. It keeps escalating and I don’t know where to turn.

“It is costing me sleep when I wake up at 3am and can’t drift off again for the stress of worrying about it.

“It is not doing me any good at all. I am 71 for God’s sake. I am not impressed at all.”

Mr Hubbard says it took the DVLA nine weeks to register the change of ownership for his old car, meaning the fines were sent directly to him.

The fines were initially £7 each, but have risen to around £190 each in a matter of months.

Since then the debts have been registered with Northampton County Court and Mr Hubbard has paid £240 for a solicitor to send a letter urging the court to scrap the fines.

He is being threatened with bailiff action and says he is “living in fear”.

Mr Hubbard added he felt it is important to warn people about the difficulties in appealing the charge.

He said: “I tried to go through the website to appeal, but it times out regularly and you need information like the new owner’s address.

“How are you supposed to get this if you’re not in communication with them?

“I worry if a disabled or elderly person suffers a similar situation they won’t be able to overturn it.”

To add to the irony, Mr Hubbard made a fully-paid journey over the crossing on April 17 in his new car.

He said: “I am an OAP. Do they honestly believe that, despite living 50 miles away from the tunnel that I made seven journeys back and forward in quick succession? “Why would I do that? The stress of fighting this has been unbelievable.”

Highways England and the DVLA were approached for comment but had not responded at the time of going to press.