Mark Wotton was sentenced to one month jail for one count of person must comply with emergency requirement.
Mark Wotton was sentenced to one month jail for one count of person must comply with emergency requirement.

Boatie in court for illegal island virus voyage

A North Queensland man who charged four other men $1000 to transport them to Palm Island amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been sentenced.

In the early hours of April 2 this year, Mark Wotton attempted to transport four men aged between 19 and 46 to Palm Island.

Wotton broke coronavirus biosecurity laws by attempting to drive his boat to the island without quarantining.

Travel to Palm Island was restricted by the Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council on behalf of the Palm Island Local Disaster Management Group on March 26 to prevent the spread of the virus.

Police intercepted Wotton's boat before it reached Palm Island and the five men were transported back to Townsville on the Brett Irwin Water Police vessel. The men were attempting to return to Palm Island after venturing to Townsville a few days earlier.

 

Townsville Water Police transported five men back to Townsville who attempted to return to Palm Island amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Townsville Water Police transported five men back to Townsville who attempted to return to Palm Island amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture: Alix Sweeney

 

Wotton pleaded guilty in the Townsville Magistrates Court yesterday to one count of person must comply with emergency requirement.

Magistrate Scott Luxton acknowledged Wotton's "hard financial times" but told him his actions could have had serious consequences.

Wotton was sentenced to one month jail released forthwith with a good behaviour term of 12 months.

Mr Luxton ordered Wotton to pay $2000 recognisance.

Convictions were recorded.

Originally published as Boatie in court for illegal island virus voyage