A clubber kicked open a fire door in a crowded bar after his wife suffered a panic attack.
Darren Jackson told a court he thought smashing the upstairs door at 7even in Derwent Street, Sunderland, was the only safe way to get out.
Magistrates ordered him to pay £2,200 in costs and compensation.
"The fire door was secured by a magnetic lock which opened in the event of the fire alarm triggering or there being a power cut," prosecutor Lesley Burgess told South Shields Magistrates' Court.
"Mr Jackson was seen on CCTV kicking the door, breaking the lock and frame. before going through it.
"The cost of repairs was £1,543, for which the management has provided invoices.
"They comment the incident caused inconvenience, and any interference with a fire door is a potential hazard."
Jackson, 38, of Cornthwaite Drive, Whitburn, admitted criminal damage on October 27.
Representing himself, he said: "The wife had a panic attack, and we couldn't get downstairs.
"I think the bar was over crowded, and I thought they were breaking the law having the door locked like that, but the police said they weren't.
"Going through that door seemed at the time the only safe way for us to get out of the premises."
Jackson was ordered to pay £2,200 in fines, costs, and compensation.