A TASMANIAN man was concerned for his child’s deteriorating health when he attempted to enter South Australia twice without state approval, a Mount Gambier court has heard.
Geoffrey Alan Sollars, 45, appeared in the Mount Gambier Magistrates Court yesterday pleading guilty to failing to comply with a COVID-19 direction after twice entering South Australia illegally.
Sollars – who received a five-week suspended prison sentence – made the journey from Tasmania after he believed a video call with his child indicated their well-being was at risk.
Prosecution alleged on Sunday at around 10.45pm the defendant approached a border checkpoint station at Bordertown on Dukes Highway.
It was revealed Sollars did not have a cross-border or essential travel pass and police directed him to return to Victoria, where he attempted to enter from.
“With that he drove off, along Dukes Highway towards Adelaide at high speeds and police from the station took off after him,” the prosecutor said.
“It took them around 18km and the activation of lights and sirens to stop him.”
Sollars was arrested and remanded at around 11pm.
The court heard further checks while in custody revealed earlier the same day, the defendant had flown into the Adelaide Airport via connecting flights from Hobart to Melbourne.
“He claimed he had compassionate grounds for an application to care for his (child), but police found he had not met any application process at all,” the prosecutor said.
“Police, health authorities and Australian Defence Force members at the Adelaide Airport flew him back from Adelaide to Melbourne at around 3pm (Sunday).”
Defence counsel said the defendant then hired a car in a bid to drive across the border.
The court heard on Friday night, Sollars had a routine video call with his child when he noticed unusual behaviour relating to their well-being.
“He became extremely concerned and contacted his boss and indicated he needed to get back … to be with (his child).”
Magistrate Maria Panagiotidis said Sollars had disregarded all warnings publicised by authorities and it was unacceptable.
Sollars was convicted and received a five-week prison sentence, suspended upon entering a nine-month, $1000 good behaviour bond.
“While I understand any parent’s concern about the well-being of a child, you knowingly ignored the direction you were given,” Magistrate Panagiotidis said.