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The Sydney millionaire who forced a lockdown of Byron Bay at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic is still avoiding punishment 10 months after brazenly breaching public health orders.
Zoran Radovanovic flew to Serbia before he could be sentenced for driving from Sydney to northern New South Wales with his two teenage children, supposedly to inspect real estate, in July last year.
His lawyer has now told Daily Mail Australia that Radovanovic is still in Serbia caring for his elderly mother and will deal with the arrest warrant awaiting him when he returns to Sydney.
The businessman left the country amid a dispute with his estranged wife Tania MacDowell which included an application for an apprehended violence order and a police allegation he broke her umbrella.
The Sydney millionaire who forced a lockdown of Byron Bay at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic is still avoiding punishment 10 months after brazenly breaching public health orders. Zoran Radovanovic is pictured with his son Kristian eight years ago
Radovanovic, a Rose Bay businessman, left the country amid a dispute with his wife Tania MacDowell which included an application for an apprehended violence order and a police allegation he broke her umbrella. Ms MacDowell is pictured at the couple’s former home
By ignoring lockdown rules and sneaking into Byron Bay while carrying the coronavirus Radovanovic forced 300,000 residents of the Northern Rivers into isolation for a week.
Health officials said he stopped at several venues in the tourist town during his illegal visit. The lockdown included the Byron, Ballina, Lismore and Richmond Valley local government areas.
Radovanovic, from Rose Bay in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, spent two weeks in Lismore Base Hospital suffering Covid after leaving a trail of potential contagion across the popular holiday region.
His 19-year-old son Kristian, who joined Radovanovic on the eight-hour 750km journey north, also contracted Covid as did his teenage daughter.
All three were treated in Lismore Base Hospital, while their mother, who did not go on the trip, spent time in hospital in Sydney.
Radovanovic’s 19-year-old son Kristian (above) joined his father on the eight-hour 750km journey north. He also contracted Covid as did his teenage sister. Both were treated in Lismore Base Hospital, while their mother, who did not go on the trip, spent time in hospital in Sydney
NSW public health orders had technically allowed locked-down Sydney residents an exemption to travel if they were ‘inspecting a potential new place of residence’.
Radovanovic claimed he had been in Byron Bay to legally inspect a property but police found he did not have a reasonable excuse to leave Sydney.
He said in late August he had not violated stay-at-home orders and would not have left home if he knew he was Covid-positive.
‘You think I knew I had corona in my pocket and took it and then went up there?’ he told the Daily Telegraph. ‘No, it’s ridiculous, what kind of imbecile would do that?’
‘I’ve done nothing wrong, I want to tell my story.’ He never did.
It had been unclear how Radovanovic managed to leave Australia during border closures which prevented citizens from flying internationally without an exemption.
A court heard in October last year that Radovanovic had flown to Serbia. Neighbours said at the time removalists had filled a shipping container outside his Rose Bay house (above) the previous week
Radovanovic’s lawyer David Newham told Daily Mail Australia his client had flown to Serbia in September to care for his 82-year-old mother in Belgrade after she underwent surgery for which there was a two-year waiting list.
‘He and his immediate family are her only surviving relatives and he travelled there with his son Kristian for her round-the-clock care,’ Mr Newham said.
‘He understands the warrant situation awaiting him in Sydney as a result of his Public Health Act matters and upon his return, will co-operate with the process to be undertaken.’
Daily Mail Australia revealed Radovanovic had left the country when he was supposed to front Downing Centre Local Court on October 28 over the domestic violence allegations involving his wife.
‘The client is overseas and has a new address in Serbia,’ magistrate Michael Barko said.
Radovanovic and his family had been living at Rose Bay since they sold a home in his wife’s name at Forestville in 2020 for $2.25million
Radovanovic’s neighbours said at the time he had split from his wife and that removalists had filled a shipping container outside their rented house the previous week.
Ms MacDowell remained on the property with the family’s two dog and a black Mercedes SUV.
Zoran Radovanovic: From Sydney to Serbia
July 31: Zoran Radovanovic and his son Kristian drive from Sydney to Byron Bay to look at real estate
August 5: Radovanovic experiences breathing difficulties after inspecting a property
August 8: Radovanovic is admitted to Lismore Base Hospital. He and Kristian are diagnosed with Covid-19
August 9: Residents of Byron, Ballina, Lismore and Richmond Valley local government areas put in lockdown
August 11: Radovanovic is charged with breaching public health orders
August 12: Kristian is charged with breaching public health orders
October 28: Downing Centre Local Court hears Radovanovic has flown to Serbia
November 15: Waverley Local Court hears Kristian is also in Serbia
December 20: Kristian is fined $35,000 for public health order breaches at Waverley Local Court. His father does not appear at Lismore Local Court. Arrest warrant issued
May 24: Police are granted an AVO to protect Radovanovic’s wife Tiana MacDowell from her husband at Downing Centre Local Court. Radovanovic does not appear
Radovanovic and his family had been living at Rose Bay since they sold a home in his wife’s name at Forestville in 2020 for $2.25million.
Radovanovic pleaded guilty through Mr Newham in Lismore Local Court on October 11 to four counts of failing to use QR codes but did not appear in person or by audio-visual link.
He was not in the same court on November 15 when pleas were entered on his behalf to three counts of not complying with a Covid direction but magistrate Jeff Linden said being in Serbia did not breach Radovanovic’s bail conditions.
Waverley Local Court heard on December 20 that Kristian was also in Serbia with his father helping look after his grandmother.
Mr Newham suggested Kristian had been led by his father when they headed off on their Northern Rivers escapade.
Kristian did not appear that day when he was sentenced to fines totalling $35,000 after pleading guilty to various public health breaches.
For not using a QR code and failing to wear a mask in a general store he was fined $5,000 and $7,500 respectively, and for not wearing a mask nor using a QR code in a taxi he was fined $12,500 and $10,000.
Kristian’s father was also not in Lismore Local Court on December 20 when magistrate Michael Dakin issued a warrant for his arrest. He recently skipped another court date in Sydney.
Radovanovic was due to face Downing Centre Local Court on May 24 when police sought the apprehended violence order to protect Ms MacDowell from him.
This time the 52-year-old was not represented by a lawyer and again failed to appear.
Magistrate Miranda Moody imposed a two-year restraining order to stop Radovanovic from assaulting, threatening, stalking, harassing or intimidating the mother of his children.
Radovanovic had also been charged with destroying or damaging property – a black umbrella belonging to Ms MacDowell – but that matter was withdrawn and dismissed.
When Radovanovic, who first came to Australia from what was then Yugoslavia on a visitor’s visa in April 1991, returns to face justice remains to be seen.
How Zoran Radovanovic narrowly escaped deportation 22 years ago
Zoran Radovanovic narrowly avoided deportation two decades ago when he was discovered to be an illegal alien with a string of convictions for drug and theft offences.
His criminal history, as revealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in 2000, commenced within a year of arriving in the country.
Radovanovic had already overstayed his visa when he was convicted of two charges of burglary and car theft in Melbourne in February 1992.
He was sentenced to six months in jail on each charge but the sentence was suspended for a year.
The next month Radovanovic appeared to have fled the country with his future wife, then known as Tiana Simic, when their passports were scanned boarding an international flight from Melbourne Airport.
Radovanovic insisted he never left the country and instead moved to Lightning Ridge where he had lived illegally under the false name of Zoran Cuk for years.
In April 1998 immigration officials acting on information Radovanovic was in Australia illegally raided his home in Melbourne. Police found 40 cannabis plants on the premises and he was subsequently convicted of drug charges.
Radovanovic was refused a bridging visa in May 1998 and ordered to leave the country by June. He married Tiana – who was an Australian citizen – in July that year and applied for permanent residency..
When that application was refused Radonvanovic appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
The tribunal eventually decided he could stay in the country, despite its deputy president stating: ‘I am not satisfied that he passes the character test.’
It found the part-time plastics worker’s life in 2000 was ‘aimless’ but members hoped he would ‘demonstrate his capacity to make a contribution to Australia’.
Radovanovic pleaded guilty in 2018 to two counts of common assault and two of contravening a restraining order. He was fined $500, placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.