Community service for Qld quarantine lie

·2-min read

Two of the three women accused of lying on a border declaration form to avoid quarantine after travelling to a declared hotspot have been sentenced to 80 hours of community service each.

Diana Lasu, 21, Olivia Winnie Muranga, 20, and Haja Umu Timbo, 21, were originally charged with one count of making false or misleading documents and one of fraud.

Timbo and Lasu appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday to face only the lesser charge of failing to comply with a public health direction.

The court heard they spent four nights in Melbourne where they attended a party in July 2020, guests of which later tested positive for COVID-19.

They received fines in Victoria for failing to comply with gathering restrictions.

Both failed to declare the hotspot visit on their return to Brisbane, and Lasu later tested positive for COVID-19.

Timbo's lawyer Rebecca Fogerty said her client's offending differed from her friends because she did not test positive for coronavirus and took it upon herself to self-quarantine.

The court was told Timbo was unaware she would have to pay for hotel quarantine before she left Queensland, and Ms Fogerty said her lie was partially motivated by avoiding the cost.

She said the media storm Timbo was subjected to should be taken into account when sentencing, calling out elements of racism and sexism in the "disproportionate" public backlash that included hundreds of private messages on social media.

"If what she has gone through in the last nine months is not atoning, then I don't know what is," she said.

"She feels pessimistic about her future prospects and happiness."

Lasu's lawyer, Elizabeth Davey, said her client also took it upon herself to self-isolate and did not spend time in the community when she returned.

Lasu had also been subjected to "horrific" racial slurs and messages telling her to kill herself after the incident attracted so much attention, Ms Davey said.

"She was receiving those messages, including death threats, while recovering from a serious virus," she said.

Prosecutor Lisa Pye told the court the maximum penalty was more than $13,000 or six months in prison, and argued a significant fine was appropriate given the cost to the community.

Timbo and Lasu both pleaded guilty and no convictions were recorded.

Muranga is listed for a plea on April 15