Man has SPER debt so big Magistrate worries he'll never pay
A DEFENDANT left Rockhampton Magistrates Court this morning with an extra $2,270 added to his $12,891.40 SPER balance.
It is a debt Magistrate Michael O'Driscoll is concerned Stephen Anthony Hemmings will "never pay off".
Even Hemmings' defence lawyer Matthew Heelan described the debt as "big".
It was made bigger today when Hemmings pleaded guilty to two counts each of driving an unregistered vehicle, driving an uninsured vehicle and driving a vehicle with false plates and one count each of driving unlicensed being a repeat offender, possessing drug utensils, possessing a dangerous drug and possessing tainted property.
Hemmings also pleaded guilty to breaching an intensive corrections order put in place by a court last July, a condition of which he pay $9276.50 in restitution arising from a previous 25 charges.
But the court heard Hemmings had not made any contributions to the restitution order and last paid his SPER debt in September 2012.
"I have a concern you will never pay a cent," Magistrate O'Driscoll told the defendant.
The court heard Hemmings also breached the intensive corrections order by failing to report on 13 occasions and failing to attend on more than 30 occasions.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Manon Barwick told the court the fresh traffic charges arose from two separate incidents in Tucheoki and Imbil in March and April this year in which he collided with two vehicles.
She said he told police "he had financial hardship and struggled to support his family".
A search warrant at his property in April uncovered a pipe, 1.1g of cannabis and an inflatable boat which he bought from a friend who was "heavily involved in drugs and it was most likely the result of drug trade but it was a really good deal".
"Clearly no community based order is going to be significant enough for this defendant to (not offend)," Snr Const Barwick said.
Mr Heelan described his client as a "workaholic", he was working two jobs and hoped to use money from the sale of his property to pay off his debts.
"He put himself between a rock and a hard place, he set himself up for failure," he said.
Mr Heelan said Hemmings would be made "totally incapable" of paying his SPER debt and restitution order if he was sent to prison.
Magistrate O'Driscoll said the defendant's traffic history was "deplorable".
"I can't describe it any other way," he said.
"I have a concern you will never pay your debts but that's for another authority."
Hemmings was fined $2,270, sentenced to two terms of imprisonment of one month and two of three months with immediate parole and disqualified from driving for three months.