EXCLUSIVE by James Bryce
A BRITISH pensioner is facing six months in prison after being blamed for a fire that led to a helicopter and aeroplane being scrambled.
Coral Wenham, 81, from Castell de Ferro, near Motril, has been ordered to pay a fine of €5,113 for the blaze, despite a report from electricity firm Endesa clearing her of any wrongdoing.
The grandmother from Reading, must now pay €220 a month to avoid prison, despite surviving on a meagre monthly income of €350.
Failure to comply will lead to an automatic prison sentence and an increased fine of €7,800.
The court in Motril heard the fire was started by an electrical fault caused by a water pump on her property.
But it refused to consider the official Endesa report, or eyewitness accounts suggesting it was actually caused by a neighbour’s bonfire, after legal papers weren’t filed in time.
“To say my mother is devastated is an understatement, she would not survive prison,” her daughter Debbie White told the Olive Press.
“She is very confused about the whole situation and is extremely worried.
“She is desperate to leave Spain,” added the mother-of-two.
“She was bullied into admitting guilt and was found guilty before she stepped into the court building.
“Guilty until proven innocent seems the way of the Spanish court system.”