Vander Sanden is appealing her sentence on the grounds the Magistrate failed to consider a wholly or partly suspended sentence as an appropriate option.

Lawyer Simon Watters said during Ms Vander Sanden’s sentencing police prosecutors argued for a term of imprisonment, while defence lawyer John Hammond argued for a fine.

He claimed Magistrate Andrew Matthews failed to consider the “middle ground” between the two.

“She didn’t go into a hotel and quarantine, she went to a friend’s house and self-quarantined there,” he said.

“On the spectrum of seriousness, it was around mid-level … what would have increased it was if she had tested positive, or if she had been out and about in the community.”

He referenced several other quarantine breaches that have been dealt with by the court, saying he considered them more serious than Vander Sanden’s.

They included a man from Queensland who left hotel quarantine and went on an “alcohol and methamphetamine binge” for days before police located him. He was jailed for four weeks.

Asher Vander Sanden outside court.Credit:Heather McNeill

He also referenced a man in Gingin who was self-isolating in a tent and could not be found when police did a compliance check on another address he provided. He later was involved in a pursuit with police before being arrested.

Another man, who was quarantining on the third level of the Mercure Hotel, used a ladder to come and go from his room through his window, before being caught by police hiding in a cupboard at a Medina property.

State prosecutor Lindsay Fox said, however, Vander Sanden’s breach was more serious than those who had previously been jailed for escaping hotel quarantine.

“This was a complete subversion and avoidance of the system in its entirety for the better part of a week,” he said.

He noted “shacking up with a friend” in Scarborough was not adequate quarantining, and that there was no evidence as to whether she stayed at the house for the week when her location was not known by police.

He noted the charge of ‘failing to comply with an order’ had its maximum penalty increased from a fine to jail time at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic for “precisely this situation”, and argued an immediate term of imprisonment was appropriate.

Vander Sanden spent three weeks in Bandyup Women’s Prison before she was granted bail to appeal her sentence.

Justice Jennifier Hill, who will re-sentence Vander Sanden if the appeal is allowed, said it was “puzzling” why she decided to enter the state illegally by road, when she had an exemption to enter and complete two weeks quarantine at a hotel at her own expense ($2500).

“I’m sure if she had her time again she would consider it more carefully,” she said.

Justice Hill has reserved her decision until Tuesday.

Heather McNeill is a senior journalist at WAtoday.


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