Massive fines for border dodgers who flaunted trip
A Perth couple accused of breaching Queensland's border restrictions during the height of the coronavirus pandemic have been hit with more than $8000 in fines.
But police have quietly dropped criminal charges of fraud against the pair following months of behind the scenes negotiations between their lawyer and police prosecutors.
Lawrence Gordon Petersen, 63, and Edith van Dommelen, 68, were each charged with fraud and failing to comply with border directions in August last year.
Police had alleged the couple falsely declared they had not travelled to a COVID-19 hotspot when they crossed the Goondiwindi border checkpoint with false declarations on July 27.
After a series of court mentions at the Richlands Magistrates Court, van Dommelen and Petersen had their case moved to the Goondiwindi Magistrates Court late last year.
After a number of mentions of their case at the regional court, police late last week dropped the charges against them.
However a Queensland Police spokeswoman said the couple were instead issued with fines of $4003 each for failing to comply with COVID-19 Border Directions by providing false information.
The couple, who hail from Perth, travel around the country house sitting and pet sitting, chronicling their adventures online and even posted about the elaborate permits and plans needed to legally travel between states.
On July 26, the day they left Victoria, the state was in the grips of its deadly second wave of the coronavirus with more than 4200 active cases while Queensland had just five active cases.
According to van Dommelen's Facebook post, the couple had been pet and house sitting about 70km outside of Melbourne before they travelled through NSW into Queensland where they went to a hospital, visited an elderly relative in her home, ate in several cafes and stayed in a Toowoomba motel.
On July 25, van Dommelen told her followers that their time pet sitting in Woodend, about 72km from Melbourne, was coming to an end.
"We'll miss the beauty and rustic Victorian countryside with all its numerous historic sites and places to sightsee but it's time to move on," she wrote.
Two days later, on July 27, van Dommelen shared the pair had made it to Queensland and detailed their "A, B and C" plans to get from Victoria to Queensland, discussing the permits and requirements needed for each.
"I did say watch this space.......well confirmation that Plan C to exit Victoria, has been successfully executed and completed," she wrote.
"Now relaxing in our Toowoomba accommodation for 2 night until the start of the first of 2 housepet sits that replaced SA Crystal Brook housepet sit that we should have started today."
Originally published as Massive fines for border dodgers who flaunted trip