A 31-year-old Perth man who fled hotel quarantine to visit his girlfriend has been slapped with a six-month jail sentence.
The bizarre case began when Yusuf Karakaya returned to the Western Australian capital from Sydney on July 30 and was ordered to spend two weeks of coronavirus quarantine at the Mercure Hotel in the city’s CBD.
Instead, he escaped out of the window of his third-storey room and walked along the roof before fleeing with the help of an accomplice.
He later returned with a ladder which he used to re-enter the room, and he repeated his escape routine over several days.
When contractors removed the ladder on August 1, the accomplice returned with a new one – however, on August 2, police officers found Karakaya hiding in a cupboard at his girlfriend’s home.
He offered a baffling excuse for breaking the strict laws, claiming it was his partner’s birthday and he would be in trouble if he didn’t see her.
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Karakaya’s lawyer Gary Rodgers argued his client had never been infected with COVID-19 and that while his client’s actions had been “stupid”, the rules surrounding the 14-day quarantine were “confusing”, ABC reported.
Karakaya pleaded guilty to four counts of failing to comply with a police order and was sentenced to six months and one day in prison, however, he will only have to serve one month, with the remainder of the sentence suspended for 12 months.
The case was heard at Perth Magistrates Court on Monday and, according to ABC News, Magistrate Tom Hall branded Karakaya’s actions as “extremely selfish”, noting they involved “some planning”.
He said the six-month sentence was an important way of sending a “message” to other would-be rule breakers.
“This is a worldwide pandemic – this is not made up. Hundreds of thousands of people have died,” he said, according to the West Australian.
“Everybody has to play by the rules.”
Karakaya is the fifth person in Western Australia to be jailed for COVID-19 breaches, with Perth woman Asher Vander Sanden handed a six-month jail term last week after she entered the state via a truck in a bid to dodge quarantine laws.