A minibus driver locked up for unpaid fines turned down a chance of freedom yesterday when he told a judge that he would rather be in jail than in debt. The multi-page criminal record of Lam Kam-hing, 31, surprised Chief Judge Patrick Chan Siu-oi, who tried in vain to persuade him to accept money from his family to secure an early release. Lam is serving a 63-day term for not paying nine fixed-penalty tickets for traffic offences. He went before Mr Justice Chan in the Court of First Instance to appeal against the sentence. The appeal was dismissed but Mr Justice Chan told Lam that he could order his immediate release once his $12,060 debt to the Government was cleared. Lam's elder sister and brother were willing to pay the amount, which represented the fines and legal costs incurred in bringing him to court. 'I do not want to take money from them. I do not want to owe them money,' Lam said. 'I do not want to burden them further.' Mr Justice Chan said: 'Don't you know that you owe them love and care and not money? If you do not want to owe them money, stay in prison until August 13.' The judge was referring to the earliest date he could be released. Magistrate Ian Candy in Eastern Court imposed the sentence on May 25 after Lam kept failing to pay the fines for traffic offences, ranging from not obeying traffic lights to careless driving.