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Career criminal racks up $12,357 in unpaid fines

Damien Estreich, 23, owes the state more than $12,000 in unpaid court fines.
Damien Estreich, 23, owes the state more than $12,000 in unpaid court fines. Contributed

MEET Damien Norman Estreich, who at 23, is already a career criminal, owing the state more than $12,000 in unpaid court fines.

Despite having a criminal history littered by drug, weapon and violence offences, Estreich has never served actual jail time.

Instead, he is among the many Wide Bay criminals going through the revolving doors of the region's watchhouses, only to walk from court deeper in debt.

As prosecutors and defence lawyers prepare for another day of battle, the Chronicle reveals how repeat offenders are making a mockery of the system.

In the six years Estreich has been an adult by law, he has had many a brief stint in custody after being locked up at the time of an offence or picked up by police for breaching bail/probation/domestic violence orders and awaiting court dates.

The only time he was sentenced to jail was in September last year when he was given immediate parole

When he appeared in court last week for breaching a bail condition by drinking alcohol when ordered not to, Magistrate Graeme Tatnell asked if he was aware of how much he currently owed to SPER.

Grinning, Estreich replied "$12,357 ... the letter came yesterday".

Estreich, who lists his job description on Facebook as "crack dealer", told the magistrate he had "smashed up a police car" and was "expecting some jail time" but that a visiting magistrate had fined him (the fine was more than $1000 with $950 restitution, both of which were referred to SPER).

In handing out another fine for the bail breach, Mr Tatnell said it "would be pleasant not to have you come back" and if he did, he would be off to jail.

The amount owed to SPER across Queensland in the last financial year exceeded $9million.

Queensland Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie said while it was important the judiciary continued to have wide discretion, the government shared Queenslanders' frustration over inadequate sentencing.

He would not be drawn on whether the government was considering changes to SPER but warned penalties had already increased for murder, firearm and sexual offences and said "we will continue to rebalance the scales of justice in other areas".

Topics:  editors picks hervey bay hervey bay magistrates court unpaid fines



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