Australia NSW man avoids jail for flouting isolation

05:50  01 april  2020
05:50  01 april  2020 Source:   msn.com

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Matthew Adam Stephan was facing a possible one-year prison sentence, but on Wednesday was handed a 12-month community corrections order and $600 fine in Sydney's Central Local Court.

After pleading guilty earlier in the week, the 30-year-old was convicted of not complying with a COVID-19 direction and not complying with a COVID-19 public health order.

Magistrate Margaret Quinn said she did not consider imprisonment due to Stephan's history of mental illness and limited criminal record.

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However, she warned him any further infractions would land him in hot water.

"If you don't do what you're told in the future, you will have a great deal of difficulty," Ms Quinn warned.

"Do you understand?"

"Yes, your honour," Stephan replied, appearing via audio-visual link from Surry Hills Police Station wearing a face mask.

After flying back from Jordan on March 18, he was ordered to self-isolate inside his Edensor Park home for a fortnight before being twice caught breaking those orders last weekend.

He was spotted in Pagewood in the early hours of Saturday morning and given a $1000 on-the-spot fine before being arrested in the CBD that night.

Because of his failure to self-isolate, a public health order was made for him to sequester himself at a serviced apartment at Camperdown.

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He was the following day arrested for a second time when he was caught trying to leave the flat.

The court heard Stephan had a long history of mental health issues, had been medicated since he was four, was diagnosed with ADHD and had endured substance abuse.

Stephan was arrested three days after the NSW government gave police the power to issue $1000 on-the-spot fines for individuals for breaking COVID-19-related directions.

While several businesses and individuals have been fined for breaking social distancing and mass gathering rules, the court heard Stephan's case was the first in which a person had been sentenced for not complying with coronavirus restrictions.

Stephan's lawyer, Mostafa Daoudie, told the court his client would have no problem complying with COVID-19 directions. Wednesday was the final day of his 14-day self-isolation period.

"In regards to reoffending, that's unlikely," Mr Daoudie said.

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"He's entered an early plea of guilty and shown contrition and remorse."

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More info: Read the latest advice on COVID-19 from the Australian Government

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