Lifestyle

Sentence handed down after young women sparked Queensland COVID cluster after border lie

One of the three women accused of lying on a border declaration form to avoid quarantine after travelling to a declared hotspot has been sentenced to 80 hours of community service.

Diana Lasu, 21, Olivia Winnie Muranga, 20, and Haja Umu Timbo, 21, were charged with one count of making false or misleading documents and one of fraud.

Timbo faced Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday charged with failing to comply with a public health direction after the initial charges were dropped.

The court heard she spent four nights in Melbourne where she attended a party in July 2020, guests of which later tested positive for COVID-19.

She failed to declare the hotspot visit on her return to Brisbane, and her travel companions later tested positive.

(Left to right) Haja Timbo, Diana Lasu and Olivia Winnie Muranga. Credit: AAP

Defence lawyer Rebecca Fogerty said her client’s offending differed from her friends because she did not test positive for coronavirus and took it upon herself to self-quarantine.

The court was told Timbo was unaware she would have to pay for hotel quarantine before she left Queensland, and Fogerty said her lie was partially motivated by avoiding the cost.

She said the media storm Timbo was subjected to should be taken into account when sentencing, calling out elements of racism and sexism in the “disproportionate” public backlash.

Media storm

“If what she has gone through in the last nine months is not atoning, then I don’t know what is,” she said.

“She feels pessimistic about future prospects and happiness.”

Timbo pleaded guilty to the single charge of failing to comply with a public health direction and no conviction was recorded.

Lasu is also due to be sentenced on Friday.

More to come.

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