Get off the grog, pay your fines

SHE'S racked up a staggering $10,000 in unpaid fines as part of a $645 million state problem and yesterday she was back in court again.

Celeste Hayden is one of more than 145,000 Queenslanders who have failed to pay three or more state fines under the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER).

The 52-year-old serial offender's latest poor choice was hitting her partner of 10 years over the head with a bottle and then twice failing to appear in Rockhampton Magistrates Court to face her charge.

As Magistrate John McGrath looked at her shocking record he decided not to add to her spectacular SPER debt.

Instead he gave Hayden a two-month suspended prison sentence to “hang over her head” for a year, telling her if she continued to “whack people over the head” she would go to jail.

“You can't just whack people over the head, even if it is a male,” Mr McGrath told her.

Her lawyer, Shayne Studdert, claimed she missed the court hearings because she simply forgot.

But Magistrate John McGrath suspected she was drunk at the time.

“Don't you think you're a bit old to be on the grog,” he said.

The court had earlier heard that Hayden was drunk when she hit her partner on September 10, 2010.

Mr McGrath asked her if she believed she had a drinking problem.

Hayden responded with “no” before she started sobbing and murmuring she had grandchildren.

Despite $10,000 being a large SPER debt, The Morning Bulletin understands many people owe substantially higher amounts, some in excess of $50,000.

As of April 30 only $134 million of outstanding late fines has been paid this year.

Yesterday the LNP Shadow Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the State Government needed to do more about recovering the “unbelievable” amount of unpaid SPER fines.

“Imagine how much disaster repairs, road upgrades and flood-proofing could be done.”



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