A 28-year-old Perth woman who narrowly avoided a six-month jail sentence for dodging hotel quarantine after a trip to Victoria has revealed why she did it.
Asher Faye Vander Sanden was jailed after sneaking into Western Australia in a truck from Victoria, breaking quarantine laws, last month.
She was sentenced to six months’ prison after pleading guilty to failing to comply with a direction under WA’s Emergency Management Act, the toughest penalty handed down for a coronavirus breach in WA.
She appealed the sentence and on Tuesday Supreme Court Justice Jenni Hill found that the sentence was unreasonable and plainly unjust.
Ms Vander Sanden, who avoided quarantine after looking after her unwell sister for a month in Victoria, was instead imposed a six-month community-based order and must complete 50 hours of community service.
‘I tried all other options’
Speaking to 6PR radio, Ms Vander Sanden claimed she dodged quarantine because she was “at her wits’ end” after she struggled to return to the state though the proper channels.
“I tried all the other options, I first bought a plane ticket in early July and Jetstar grounded all their flights so I lost that flight.
“Then when I got my G2G pass, I booked a hotel room and booked a flight from Mildura to Melbourne and flight from Melbourne to Perth, and then last minute the taxi cancelled and I missed my flight,” she said.
“I was dealing with a lot of family issues in Victoria and I was suffering really badly from anxiety, I reached out for help in Victoria and I got absolutely none. I didn’t know what to do and I just wanted to go home, I felt like I was going to lose it there.
“I just did the mercy dash back to Perth without even thinking.”
The 28-year-old was arrested on August 11 after hitching a ride back to WA in a truck. Her boyfriend had picked her up at a service station and took her back to his home in the beachside suburb of Scarborough.
She had applied for and was granted an exemption to fly to WA but was required to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days at her own expense.
Police made inquiries after Ms Vander Sanden, who is a WA resident, did not arrive at Perth Airport as outlined in her application.
With her niece suffering from asthma, Ms Vander Sanden told 6PR she took coronavirus seriously and was not moving throughout the community once she arrived at her partner’s house.
“I had the house stocked up before I got there, and just locked the door and just stayed in the house until I was able to contact a lawyer and hand myself in,” she said.
Ms Vander Sanden expressed remorse and said she could have put the public at risk, and was not in a good headspace at the time she made the decision to flout the rules.
“Definitely, there was a definite chance [of putting the public at risk]. In my mind, and in the state that I was in at the moment, all I thought was, if I get to WA and I self-isolate, like everything would be okay,” she said.
“But then when I got to WA and had a chance to breathe, everything really hit me.”
Unfair punishment compared to others, she claims
With Ms Vander Sanden in prison for three weeks before she was released on bail, the young woman felt she copped harsher consequences than other rule breakers.
“In a sense like, I guess what I did, it did deserve that,” she told 6PR.
“But then when you have other people that have like gone to WA without a permit, and then left the hospital and went to a pub, and then they’ve got hotel isolation or the millionaires over in Victoria ... that's what made me feel it was unfair.
“I thought it was unfair to the fact I’m the only one that had that happen.”
As a result of the ordeal, Ms Vander Sanden said she had learnt to think decisions through more clearly and not put herself in a similar situation again.
Individuals found to have breached WA's strict quarantine laws face a maximum penalty of 12 months' imprisonment or a $50,000 fine.
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