Men Jailed 10 Months After Sneaking Into Championship Game, Breaking COVID Rules In Australia

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Jack Kerley Contributor
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Two Australian men received a 10-month jail sentence after pleading guilty to three charges of breaching COVID-19 restrictions and one charge of fraud after attending the Australian Football League (AFL) grand final.

Hayden Burbank and Mark Babbage were avid fans of the Melbourne Demons, a Victorian football team that was competing against another Victorian team, the Western Bulldogs, in the AFL grand final, which is usually held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Victoria.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions and record numbers of infections in Melbourne and Sydney, the Sept. 25 grand final was relocated to Perth in the Australian state of Western Australia (WA). WA had implemented  border closures in preparation for the grand final.

The Demons haven’t won a grand final for 57 years, and Burbank and Babbage flouted restrictions in order to attend the game. They allegedly forged documents to enter the Australian’s Northern Territory to then qualify for WA’s GTG Pass, the states border pass, reported 9 News.

The pair attended the game and went to the after party for the Demons which led to their arrest, as photos were uploaded to Instagram the next day. Both men were arrested on Sept. 28, reported 7 News.  (RELATED: ANALYSIS: Australia’s COVID Police State Is What Future Liberals Secretly Want)

On Oct. 13, at Perth’s Magistrates Court in WA’s capital city, Magistrate Matthew Holgate sentenced the men to 10 months in jail and suspended seven, resulting in a three month jail term for the pair, reported the Australian Broadcasting Company.

Holgate claimed that the sentence was due to their dishonesty and the fact that it was a major sporting event, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

“The exposure to 61,000 people says to me the sentence is too serious to be wholly suspended,” Holgate said. However, the sentences were backdated to their arrest date meaning they can appeal for release at the end of December, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

The pair is also facing charges in the Northern Territory, 7 News reported.