Katrina Lauren East receives suspended term of imprisonment for breaching COVID-19 self-quarantine measures

Katrina Lauren East, 29, received a suspended term of imprisonment over three self-quarantine breaches in July 2020. Photo: Thomas Munday.
Katrina Lauren East, 29, received a suspended term of imprisonment over three self-quarantine breaches in July 2020. Photo: Thomas Munday.

A South West woman who breached COVID-19 self-quarantine measures on three separate occasions has narrowly avoided prison.

Katrina Lauren East, 29, of Eaton faced Bunbury Magistrates Court on August 27 and pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to comply with a direction.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Darren Clifton told the court East flew over from Melbourne to Western Australia on June 30, and was ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days at a residence in Millbridge.

She first breached quarantine at 1.18pm on July 3, when she visited Terry White Chemmart Eaton to buy allergy medication.

The 29-year-old later visited Australind's Karragarup Play Space, on Old Coast Road, with friends at 11.30am on July 10.

She told police she was "struggling with quarantine" and had taken precautions at the playground.

On July 11, East attended an 80th birthday party at the South West Italian Club in East Bunbury.

Sgt. Clifton said she had "socialised with many people at the party" before being approached by police.

The court heard that all-three offences had breached the Emergency Management Act.

Defence lawyer Jodette Reynolds said East had moved to Melbourne 18 months ago to undertake a Certificate IV in Christian Ministry.

The 29-year-old, living with an elderly couple at the time, decided to return to and self-quarantine in WA.

The court was told that she is a Cystic Fibrosis sufferer, under "constant medical care", and on a disability support pension.

Mrs Reynolds said East was suffering "significant mental health issues" at the time of the offences.

The defence added that her client was "very confident" she had not contracted COVID-19.

Mrs Reynolds said East was "embarrassed" and "remorseful" for her actions, and now committed to her online studies and long-term health.

The court also heard that East, having received backlash via social media, has been distancing herself from family members and friends.

Sgt. Clifton acknowledged that East had no prior offences and was a person of otherwise good character.

He noted, however, that her actions had "undermined the efforts of the government and law enforcement".

Wearing a mask and surrounded by family members, East returned to court for sentencing on August 28.

Magistrate Joe Randazzo took East's physical and psychological health into consideration when handing down the sentence.

"I have not found this sentencing exercise to be easy at all, far from it," he said.

"Your state of health is relevant to be taken into account in the exercise of my sentencing."

The magistrate affirmed, however, that there was "no excuse" for East to have breached quarantine or potentially put others at risk.

"No one could have been certain as to what your state was during that period of time," Mr Randazzo said.

"You cannot play with the safety of Western Australians."

East received an eight-month cumulative term of imprisonment suspended for 12 months.

The 29-year-old refused to answer any of the media's questions outside of court.

The maximum punishment for this type of offence is a 12-month term of imprisonment and a $50,000 fine.