They said the “sophisticated” plan to alter documents to enter WA was for the “selfish” reason of attending a football game, and not to visit a sick or dying relative.
But Babbage’s lawyer, Seamus Rafferty, pushed for a suspended sentence, noting his client’s guilty plea had been entered at the first opportunity, and being in prison since his arrest on September 28 at Bunker Bay had a “salient effect” on him.
Mr Rafferty said Xavier College graduate Babbage had an “excellent” upbringing and had completed an aeronautical engineering degree at RMIT, noting a conviction – especially for fraud – would have a significant impact on his current career as a financial planner.
He said Babbage was “deeply remorseful” for his crimes and the pair had made an “appalling decision”.
Burbank’s lawyer, Andrew Tehan, told the court his client had a long history of supporting charitable causes through his restaurant, and in February 2020 raised $63,000 as part of a bushfire appeal after fires ravaged Australia’s east coast.
Mr Tehan said Burbank was “extremely remorseful”, and the convictions would have a detrimental impact when he returned to Victoria, including potential implications to the liquor licence at his Chapel Street restaurant, Morris Jones.
The plan to travel west was put together quickly, Mr Tehan said, with the pair conceiving it after the Demons won the preliminary final on September 10.
Doctors’ reports were provided to the magistrate, arguing Burbank’s mental health history and ADHD diagnosis contributed to his offending.
Mr Tehan said the pair returning negative COVID-19 tests after arriving in Darwin was also important.
“If [Burbank] hadn’t received that negative test while in quarantine, there is no way that he would have flown to Western Australia,” Mr Tehan said, and argued the offending could not be described as the worst of its kind.
However, Magistrate Matthew Holgate took a different view, with the extent of the pair’s dishonesty and their attendance at a major sporting event deemed to be the most serious factors.
“The exposure to 61,000 people says to me the sentence is too serious to be wholly suspended,” he said.
He sentenced the men to be immediately imprisoned for three months, with the remaining seven months of their 10-month sentences suspended.
The sentences were backdated to when the two were arrested on September 28 in WA’s South West, meaning they will be released from prison on December 28.
The pair have also been summonsed to appear in a NT court over several charges including contravention of an emergency declaration, giving false or misleading information, uttering a forged document, and criminal deception to obtain a benefit.
NT Police say while the pair flew into the NT from a Melbourne airport via regional Victoria before it was declared a hotspot, they did not isolate until a negative COVID-19 test was returned, as directed.
It is also alleged Burbank and Babbage falsified documents to obtain NT driver’s licences and open bank accounts in the Top End.