New development in COVID border jumper trio case
Police will drop a fraud charge against one of the women accused of lying to Queensland authorities on her border declaration pass last year after her lawyer confirmed she would plead guilty to producing false or misleading documents.
Diana Lasu, 21, Olivia Winnie Muranga, 20, and Haja Umu Timbo, 21, did not appear at Brisbane Magistrates Court as their cases were briefly mentioned on Wednesday.
Their lawyers appeared in their place.
The trio have each been charged with fraud and providing false or misleading documents.
Police allege the three women travelled to Victoria but lied about their travels upon returning to the Sunshine State in July.
Their fraud charges allege they dishonestly gained a benefit by avoiding the mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon returning.
Ms Timbo's lawyer Jaimee-Lee Jessop on Wednesday told the court that case conferencing had been successful and the matter could be listed for a lengthy plea date.
She said the fraud charge against Ms Timbo would be withdrawn.
Ms Lasu's lawyer Ben Taylor asked for a further adjournment to allow more case conferencing to take place.
He said more material, including body-worn camera footage and police notebook entries, needed to be disclosed.
All three will return to court for a mention on February 17, but a lengthy plea date for Ms Timbo's matters was set down for March 26.
The trio are alleged to have travelled from Melbourne to Brisbane via Sydney in July last year but lied on their border declaration passes about visiting the southern hot spot.
At the time, Victoria was grappling with its second wave of the virus and implementing strict lockdown measures.
While staying in Melbourne, they were fined by police for hosting a large Airbnb party in breach of COVID-19 restrictions.
Ms Timbo did not contract coronavirus, but Ms Lasu and Ms Muranga were infected and continued to work in the community when they returned to Queensland.
Both Ms Muranga and Ms Lasu spent days in the community while infectious and returned to work, sparking multiple shutdowns and contact tracing efforts.
Their court appearance comes after Queensland recorded two new cases of coronavirus on the eve of restrictions being eased across the greater Brisbane region.
Both cases were acquired overseas and are in hotel quarantine.
No new locally-transmitted cases were recorded.
Wednesday 20 January – coronavirus cases in Queensland:— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) January 19, 2021
• 0 new locally acquired cases
• 2 overseas acquired cases
• 25 active cases
• 1,299 total cases
• 1,701,283 tests conducted
Sadly, six Queenslanders with COVID-19 have died. 1,258 patients have recovered.#covid19 pic.twitter.com/VraD6TBUPa
Originally published as New development in COVID trio case