Border walker’s Vic journey revealed, refused bail

A VICTORIAN man with a history of disregarding COVID-19 directions has been refused bail after he was located walking near a pine plantation south-east of Mount Gambier on Sunday.

Luke John Parsons, 39, appeared in the Mount Gambier Magistrates Court unrepresented via video-link yesterday facing a charge of failing to comply with direction.

The prosecution alleged on August 2 at around 6.40am, police were on patrol near Caroline south-east of Mount Gambier, travelling near pine plantations along the South Australia-Victoria border, when officers came across Parsons walking near a forest carrying a bag.

“They pulled up and had a conversation with him and it became evident to them he had entered South Australia without going through proper protocols,” the prosecutor said.

“They then had a look through his bag and uncovered several bits of documentation which indicated he had visited Victoria in the last 14 days.”

The court heard police found receipts from transactions in Frankston on July 23, Hamilton on July 28, accommodation receipts from Port Fairy dated July 29 and receipts from Portland from July 31 to August 1.

“Police had a conversation with him which revealed he had requested a taxi from Portland to Dartmoor,” the prosecutor said.

“When spoken to, he stated he had caught a taxi, had an argument with the taxi driver and was dropped at an unknown location near Nelson.

“He said he walked into the pine forest and had a sleep…He said he was not aware of any restrictions.”

After speaking with a taxi driver and a Dartmoor shop owner, Parsons was allegedly refused transport.

Stating he had no intentions of crossing into South Australia, Parsons said he had organised a bus from Portland to Dartmoor where he booked and paid for accommodation at the Dartmoor Hotel.

“Just before I was about to go to bed, I was having a cup of tea and was about to play a game of pool,” Parsons said.

“Then this young man started yelling at me saying I was from Melbourne and I was spreading COVID-19.”

The court heard Parsons had recent criminal history in Victoria including on May 25, July 6 and July 21, including an infringement notice for failing to comply with direction.

“I also believe he breached COVID-19 restrictions when he was flown from Brisbane back to Melbourne,” the prosecutor said.

The prosecutor said bail was opposed and the maximum penalty Parsons could face was a $20,000 fine or two-years imprisonment.

The defendant’s application for bail was refused on the grounds he could not provide a suitable address.

Parsons became argumentative with Magistrate Maria Panagiotidis which resulted in the video-link being muted.

Magistrate Panagiotidis advised Parsons to seek advice from the duty solicitor as she was not satisfied he heard or understood what she said.

The defendant was remanded in custody and will appear again in court on August 10.