A drunken woman who swore at police walked out of court more than £4,600 better off after her previous fines were cancelled.
Magistrates heard it would take Emma Hodgson more than 20 years to clear her account, which she was paying off at £5 a week from benefits.
Hodgson, 37, appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates after she was arrested for repeatedly swearing at police officers at Marsden, South Shields.
Paul Anderson, prosecuting, said: “When police arrived she was sitting on a wall. It was clear she was drunk, and she very quickly became abusive. The officers warned her to calm down.
“She has a quite lengthy record of petty offending.”
Hodgson, of Saint Vincent Street, South Shields, admitted being drink and disorderly on June 1.
Janice Hall, defending, said: “Ms Hodgson has struggled with drink for a long time. She spent several hours in the cells sobering up for her trouble this time.
“One of Ms Hodgson’s fines accounts is about £4.500, which will take 20 years to pay off. She has other accounts which amount to several hundred pounds.”
After taking legal advice from the court’s clerk, the bench ordered Hodgson to remain in the court until 5pm, by which time the £4,500 was deemed to be ‘time served’ and removed from her account.
Hodgson was given a conditional discharge of 12 months for being drunk and disorderly.
She must continue to pay the remaining fines at £5 a week.