A fines defaulter was told by a magistrate to cut down on smoking to help clear his debt.
Dean Foster appeared before Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court in connection with unpaid fines of £1,183.
The court heard the fines dated from 2008 to 2010, and were a mixture of court fines, unpaid compensation and victim surcharge.
Foster, of Hawthorn Walk, Hartlepool, made his last payment of £90 in January, 2010.
Representing himself, Foster, 38, told the court he had paid recently paid other fines of £1,500.
“It looked like they were going to send me to prison,” he said. “I got some back-dated money from the DSS which arrived at just the right time.
“I used that to pay the £1,500, but I’ve not been able to pay anything from the other fines.”
The court clerk confirmed Foster had cleared one account, but his other account of £1,183 was outstanding.
Asked how he proposed to pay the balance, Foster said he could do so at £5 a week.
The bench examined a statement of means provided by Foster.
Bench chairwoman Kate Foster said: “I see from this you are spending quite a lot of money on smoking.
“If you cut down on that, you would have more money left over to pay your fines.
“You already know what can happen if you don’t pay your fines, so you must understand this money must be paid.
“It’s still going to take some time to pay this off at £10 a fortnight.”
Foster told the bench he was trying to economise.
“I’ve not had a drink for four or five weeks,” he said.
The bench agreed to accept Foster’s offer of £10 a fortnight.