Mareeba Magistrates Court has played witness to a bizarre exchange.
Mareeba Magistrates Court has played witness to a bizarre exchange.

How driver beat fine with ‘dead man‘ defence

A TABLELANDS driver who demanded $5 million in compensation for being forced to accept a surname spelled in capitals has won an appeal against his fine.

Jean Baptiste Dominiq Hainuaut was fined $450 in Mareeba Magistrates Court after a hearing for driving without a licence and while suspended.

But things took a turn for the unusual when Hainuaut refused to answer his surname.

"He instead stated he knew a person with that 'identity' but he was not that person

as he was alive," Judge Dean Morzone noted in his appeal judgment.

Hainuaut went on to demand $5 million to "accept that surname" and went on to insist "the person named in the charge was a 'dead entity'."

The defendant then left the court and was promptly convicted and fined in absentia.

However Hainuaut appealed the sentence and conviction on the grounds he was not able to state his case.

"The appellant practices an unconventional usage of his name ... he holds an apparently genuine belief that the use of upper case lettering is for a dead entity or corporation," Judge Morzone found.

An excerpt from hearing detailed an at best frustrating exchange between Hainuaut and the acting Magistrate.

BENCH: I have a charge against Jean-Baptiste Dominiq Hainaut.

DEFENDANT: I am not that, I'm alive.

BENCH: Let me cut you off there....

DEFENDANT: Well, all these documents concerning these things are fraudulent....

BENCH: Are you that person or not?

DEFENDANT: From what I understand, the person is a dead entity and I know the law and none of the papers talk like that, but that shows the incompetence of the

lawmakers and the illegal laws.... if you want me to accept that surname, I want $5 million compensation....

BENCH: Everything you've said is complete nonsense...

DEFENDANT: Well, the charges are fraudulent. The drivers licence is a fraudulent. ... I've retired, so I can have plenty of time to come hassle you guys."

Judge Morzone reflected that in view of court formalities, Hainuaut's assertions would be "verging on the bizarre."

"For reasons which remain unclear to me, the appellant has a deep rooted but apparently genuine belief of historically proper usage of given names for living beings," he said.

Nevertheless the judge found the police evidence fell short of proving the defendant's alleged offence, quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial.

He made no mention of the five million.