Woman who sparked Newcastle lockdown fined

·3-min read

A nursing student who illegally left Sydney's lockdown to spend days shopping and partying in Newcastle sparking a months-long lockdown has been convicted and fined $4000.

Josephine Lado, 20, tested positive to COVID-19 after returning from her Newcastle getaway in late July, which she originally kept secret from contact tracers.

Her trip with co-accused Sulafa Ageeb Ageeb, 21, who also later tested positive to coronavirus, included four large gatherings, multiple shopping jaunts and a trip to the nail salon.

Magistrate Andrew George reprimanded Rooty Hill resident Lado in Mt Druitt Local Court on Wednesday, saying she risked spreading the potentially lethal disease "for entirely selfish reasons".

According to police facts tendered in court, a significant number of infected people in the Hunter region appear to be directly linked to their movements, while neither checked into many venues visited.

"The only reasonable hypothesis" was the women's action's directly resulted in COVID-19 spreading across the region.

Lado pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a COVID-19 health order and failing to comply with COVID check-in requirements.

Defence lawyer Luke Noonan asked for his client to be spared a conviction, saying she was young, of otherwise very good character, and had taken full responsibility for her actions.

The university student felt a "real sense of shame and embarrassment for what she had done", Mr Noonan said, adding that she had been negatively suffering from an earlier serious assault on her in Wagga Wagga.

He submitted it was not a case of "a young lady shirking all responsibility by jumping on a plane to go party in Newcastle", where she has close family ties and had been seeking "refuge".

But the magistrate said Lado spread "COVID all over the land" and letting her off was "simply not on the table".

"This is a matter of her responsibility to the community who she let down substantially, she says she knows this now but it's a bit late for the people she infected," he said.

"What you have done is completely unacceptable, many people would expect me to send you to prison for it."

Her journey of about 170km from western Sydney to Broadmeadow began on July 27 and included the largest shopping complex in Newcastle.

A friend's birthday dinner in Hamilton followed, which led to another gathering of about 40 people at a Shortland home.

She admitted more shopping and getting her nails done with her co-accused and two others in Charlestown on July 29, before another party in the same Shortland house that night.

Police were notified and attended about 1.45am on July 30, where they saw "numerous" people run into a parked car where they found both women pretending to be asleep on the back seat.

Despite being ordered to return home and await $1000 fines in the mail, both women partied on the following night.

First up was a large gathering at Blacksmiths Beach on Lake Macquarie before heading back to the Shortland house with several others.

The pair finally caught a train home on July 31.

Police said the women undertook a "calculated and concerted effort" to alter check-in and address data in their Service NSW app.

Lado made full admissions after police dropped charge sheets at her quarantine hotel on August 12.

"Their actions have realised lockdown restrictions in the communities they unlawfully attended, seriously impacting citizens, businesses and education providers," according to the facts of the case.

Ageeb is due to be sentenced on November 24, while the host all three consecutive Shortland parties, Nathan Koko, who also tested positive to COVID-19 is due to face court on Thursday.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting