Three Logan men busted after returning to Queensland from COVID-ravaged Melbourne at the height of the pandemic have been handed good behaviour bonds.

Samuel Tumua Fenunuti, 29, from Slacks Creek, Tithing Keresoma Faagase, 25, from Logan and Earnest Tumano Lotomau, 23, from Waterford, faced Coolangatta Magistrates Court on Monday to plead guilty to failing to comply with a public health directive after returning to Queensland from Melbourne in August when the southern city was in the grips of the pandemic.

Representing the trio in court, defence lawyer Thomas Lane-Porter from Roland McGrath Solicitors said the men had filled in border applications but had been confused by the escalating crisis in Melbourne, believing their suburbs were outside declared COVID hotspots.

After returning to Queensland together from stints working in Melbourne's wharves and discovering the whole city was a declared hot spot, they alerted authorities and were escorted by police to quarantine hotels in Brisbane.

Logan trio Samuel Tumua Fenunuti, Earnest Tumano Lotomau and Tithing Keresoma Faagase outside Coolangatta court on Monday morning. Picture: Scott Powick.
Logan trio Samuel Tumua Fenunuti, Earnest Tumano Lotomau and Tithing Keresoma Faagase outside Coolangatta court on Monday morning. Picture: Scott Powick.

Fenunuti, who appeared in court with no criminal history, told police he had Googled his postcode in Melbourne before filling out the border application form and thought it was not a hot spot.

Mr Lane-Porter said Fenunuti had made 'a simple mistake' and 'did everything in his power to rectify it'.

Magistrate Kerry Magee agreed, saying 'the absence of an intention to deceive … was an important mitigating factor'.

Mr Lane-Porter told the court Lotomau thought his boss had given him the correct information to fill out a Queensland border pass, with Ms Magee agreeing there was 'no intention to deliberately mislead'.

Solicitor Thomas Lane-Porter outside Coolangatta court. Picture: Scott Powick.
Solicitor Thomas Lane-Porter outside Coolangatta court. Picture: Scott Powick.

Faagase, who had no criminal history, made similar submissions with Ms Magee accepting any risk to the community 'was not significant'.

She placed all three men on good behaviour bonds with suspended fines of $1200 each.

None of the men would answer questions outside court, but Mr Lane-Porter said it had been 'an unfortunate misunderstanding'.

"My clients look forward to getting on with their lives," he said.

Originally published as 'Simple mistake': How Logan trio were caught in COVID breach


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