Paul Andrew Murray has been sentenced to 7 months jail after being found guilty of breaking self-isolation orders 15 times.
The Western Australian man flew from Queensland back to his home in Western Australia. Upon returning to Scarborough on June 27, he was ordered into home quarantine for 14 days.
While under isolation orders, Murray hired tradesmen and sold items online to customers who came to his house to collect their purchases. After confiding to one of these customers that he was meant to be under quarantine, they tipped off police which led to the arrest.
“A complaint was made to police after the man disclosed to a person attending his address that he was under self-quarantine,” said the police, in a statement on Tuesday.
Murray pleaded guilty to all 15 charges.
He has been ordered to serve 2 months behind bars starting immediately, followed by a 5 month suspended sentence.
Edward De Vries, the magistrate overseeing the sentence, referred to Murray as ‘brazen’ and ‘breathtakingly arrogant’ with his sentencing decision designed to send a ‘powerful message’ to any other Western Australians considering breaking public health orders.
“Many people have died and it is mind-boggling that people can still flout the rules and put whole communities at risk,” said Vries.
Queensland is currently listed as a ‘medium risk’ jurisdiction, which means that travellers are not permitted to enter unless they hold an exemption through G2G PASS. Those who enter are required to submit to a Covid test within 48 hours of arrival and again on day 11 of their mandatory 14 day quarantine.
Murray is not the first Australian to be jailed for breaking quarantine orders.
28 year-old Asher Faye Vander Sanden was permitted to fly from Victoria – where she was looking after a sick relative – to Perth in 2020. Instead of flying, she arrived by hiding in a car that was being transported by a truck. She then stayed at her partner’s home where she was later arrested for deliberately averting border security.
Despite maintaining self-isolation while at her partner’s house, Senior Constable McDowall insisted that her behaviour was ‘deceitful and dishonest’ before publicly calling for the young woman to face jail time. Magistrate Andrew Matthews agreed and sentenced her to 6 months jail for failing to comply with a direction under WA’s Emergency Management Act.
This ruling was swiftly overturned after a successful appeal.
Supreme Court Justice Jenni Hill called the sentence ‘unreasonable’ and ‘plainly unjust’. A 6 month community order and 50 hours community service was imposed instead.
Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan is known for his hard-line attitude toward Covid which includes closing state borders early and initiating lockdowns over single digit case numbers. He was also the premier who floated the idea of attaching police ankle bracelets to those stuck in hotel quarantine and wanted to turn Western Australia into an 'island within an island'.