A grandmother of three who lied to South Australian border patrols about illegally entering from a locked out state has apologised for her “stupid mistake”.
Victorian resident Pauline Briggs’s offending came to an end on Thursday afternoon when SA Police raided the Pullman medihotel in Adelaide’s CBD and arrested her and two other people from the Hindmarsh Square facility.
Police were seen entering the building with a battering ram and bolt cutters and were later seen wearing gas masks while leaving the hotel with three people in handcuffs.
Prior to the arrests, it was alleged that police stopped a car on a dirt road near Loxton, in the state’s northeastern Riverland region, at about 5.30pm yesterday where one of the passengers – Ms Briggs’ partner, Aaron Peters, 34, from NSW – allegedly admitted to having been in a restricted area and was arrested.
He was charged with breaching the Emergency Management Act and pleaded guilty to the charge in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Thursday. He was sentenced to 18 days’ imprisonment.
According to SA Police, Ms Briggs, Tammy Bustard, 31 from NSW, and Colby Higgins, 32 from NSW, who were also in the vehicle, gave different accounts of where they had been in the past 24 hours.
The three were placed into the Pullman medihotel while officers investigated their movements, where they were later arrested.
They were each charged with breaching the Emergency Management Act.
After being refused police bail, they all appeared in Adelaide Magistrates Court on Friday via video link from the Covid-19 suite in the Adelaide City Watch House.
Ms Briggs pleaded guilty to the offence and apologised for her “stupid mistake”.
She told the court she lied because she was “scared of what would happen” and didn’t want to get in trouble.
“I’m fully aware what I did was wrong and I’m sorry,” Ms Briggs said.
“I wasn’t sure about the travellers exemption … but it was a stupid mistake.”
The court heard Ms Briggs lied to police by saying she was a returning South Australian resident and provided officers two different addresses – one being her mother’s and the other her brother’s.
According to the police prosecutor, the unvaccinated woman was seen in a Victorian town just three hours before the vehicle was pulled over.
“She lied to authorities and if this wasn’t detected, it could have put the public to further risk,” he said.
The court heard the woman was tested while in the Pullman Hotel and returned a negative result.
Magistrate Yoong Fee Chin sentenced Ms Briggs to three months’ imprisonment but partially suspended it so she only needs to spend one month behind bars.
“I accept she is sorry and contrite for her actions,” he said.
“This is serious offending because it has the potential to bring about a high level of social disorder and can create a situation where authorities can bring about lockdowns.”
Neither Ms Bustard nor Mr Higgins applied for bail and were remanded in custody to appear in the Berri Magistrates Court later this month.