A motorist has been left furious after being handed £1,400 in fines for unpaid journeys on the Dartford Crossing - despite being in SPAIN at the time.

Ian Hubbard, 71, sold his Mercedes A140 in April and then went to Xàbia to relax in the sun.

But the retired civil engineer was shocked when he returned from holiday the following month to find bills for seven journeys the car had made via the crossing.

After contacting Highways England - which administers the charge - he claims he was told he couldn't prove it was not him because he did not have copies of the paperwork.

The pensioner said he had sent the forms to the DVLA, which took nine weeks to register the change of ownership for his old car.

This meant the original £7 fines were sent directly to him - and eventually rose to £190 each.

After the debts were registered with a court and he was threatened with visits from bailiffs, Mr Hubbard paid £240 for a solicitor to fight the fines.

Mr Hubbard said he was finally informed yesterday (mon) that the penalty would be dropped.

Mr Hubbard from Tendring, Essex said: "It's disgraceful. I've been through six months of this.

"I'm ready to strangle people. It's caused me considerable problems.

"I've not slept properly for months and I really am frustrated. I feel this system is designed to extract money from people. You're guilty until proven innocent."

Mr Hubbard said he tried to appeal the fines through the official website.

He added: "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."

He said he contacted the DVLA a month after he had sent off the paperwork.

The retiree added: "They said, 'We don't even know if we've received it'.

"I couldn't cancel my account with the Dartford Crossing until the DVLA had registered the change of ownership.

"The system is geared to grind you down so you don't fight back.

"I've got time to do it because I'm a pensioner but it really gets you down."

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

He said: "If you don't fight your way through it you never get there."

Highways England and the DVLA have been contacted for comment.