Sussex

Kerry Katona fined £500 for failing to send her child to school

Kerry Katona arrives at Brighton Magistrates' Court in March 2019 Image copyright PA
Image caption Kerry Katona had previously told the court she would represent herself at her trial but a guilty plea was entered in her absence

Singer Kerry Katona has been fined £500 for failing to send one of her children to school.

The former member of Atomic Kitten had previously denied the charge but her solicitor entered a guilty plea on her behalf at Brighton Magistrates' Court.

The prosecution said Katona, who lives in Crowborough, East Sussex, had "failed to engage" over the issue.

But Ed Fish, defending, said work commitments meant she sometimes had to take the child to work with her.

Katona, 38, had previously been warned she could be jailed after failing to attend an earlier court hearing.

She did appear at the previous hearing on 6 March, when she pleaded not guilty.

But during the public part of Wednesday's hearing, when Mr Fish said she was pleading guilty, no reason was given for her absence.

The court was told Katona had failed to send the child - one of five, who cannot be named - to school for a "significant" number of days between April and November last year.

Gareth Jones, prosecuting on behalf of East Sussex County Council, said the child's attendance rate had dropped as low as 48%.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Kerry Katona failed to attend court, having appeared at the previous hearing, but her solicitor pleaded guilty on her behalf

He said: "There's a failure to engage here. She's not attending meetings, letters are not being responded to. This is a problem that has gone on for some time."

But Mr Fish told the court some of the unauthorised absences were because Katona could not get childcare while working.

He said: "She understands it fell below what was expected of her.

"On occasions [the child] missed school due to Kerry Katona's work commitments. She's not had childcare and has to take the children to work.

"She understands she should maintain better contact with the school."

But he added: "The attendance has not been the worst [the court has seen]."

Katona was also ordered to pay £325 costs and a £100 surcharge and was given 14 days to pay.

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