COVID breachers cop whopping fines over house gathering
A GROUP of mates who got together while the state was in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis have paid a heavy price for breaching restrictions.
An Ipswich court on Monday heard that when police arrived at the illegal gathering, some of the young men fled over side and rear fences of the complex, with officers only catching up with five of them.
Yuga Wilberforce, who was one of the men apprehended, copped the biggest fine of all because he obstructed police.
Yuga Daniel Wilberforce, 26, a meatworks labourer from Redbank Plains, pleaded guilty to contravening a requirement during a declared public health emergency at Redbank on April 11, 2020; and obstructing an emergency officer.
Prosecutor Sergeant Brad Dick said the restrictions in Ipswich at the time meant only two people who were not residents could visit another person's home.
Sgt Dick said police were contacted on March 11 about a gathering at Turin St, Redbank, where only two people resided.
He said seven adults were seen inside with others running off at the sight of police.
Wilberforce was one of five spoken to at the scene, but after being given a final direction by police, had struggled with the officers.
The court heard that when handcuffed and taken to the police vehicle, there had been a scuffle, causing one officer to receive bruises to their upper arm.
Defence lawyer Christy Louden said Wilberforce went to the house to see a relative and 'edit a film'.
"He went to the house to see his cousin. He appears not to have been clear about the health directions and thought he could visit so as to edit a film," Ms Louden said.
"The reason he told police to arrest him was that he had no ride home. His mobile phone battery had died and it was late at night.
"He is sorry for what happened."
Wilberforce told the magistrate he was in a room sleeping when police arrived and after being fined was told he had to leave.
"It was already night time. I considered me being in danger walking. Something may happen and thought if I get arrested (I would have somewhere to stay)," he said.
Magistrate Donna MacCallum said the offences carried maximum fines of $13,000 and $26,000, and she asked the prosecutor as to what penalties had been imposed on the other offenders.
Sgt Dick said the other offenders were each fined $1334.
Wilberforce was fined $2600, with no conviction recorded.