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A former NRL star can ‘finally mourn his late mother in peace’ after courts dismissed a $5,000 fine he was given for breaking Covid rules to see her in her final moments.
Former Knights fullback, Robbie O’Davis, rushed to his mother Margaret’s hospital bed in August last year, after doctors said she didn’t have long to live.
Mr O’Davis had been declared a ‘close contact’ days earlier and told to isolate immediately, despite negative PCR tests.
Robbie O’Davis broke isolation rules to visit his mum in hospital after doctors said she didn’t have long to live
The former Knights footballer said his wife Louise needed an emergency MRI on the same day so he decided to drop her off so he could see his mum
The 49-year-old is a truck driver and had delivered a load of concrete, without leaving his truck, to a site where there had been an active Covid case.
He told FEMAIL he immediately got tested and went into his 14-day isolation, a few days later his mum fell terribly ill.
‘My dad was told she had really bad sepsis and was going to go at any moment,’ he said.
The footballer’s wife had to go to hospital for an emergency MRI so he decided he would drop her there so he could run up to see his mum for the last time.
‘I showed her videos the kids had made her, saying poems,’ he said, remembering his mum who was the life of the party and centre of the family.
But while he was gone a police officer conducted a random check on his home, to make sure he was adhering to the rules.
Margaret was 74 when she died, but had been ‘happy and healthy’ leading up to her admission to hospital
‘I told him where I was, with mum, and that I had tested negative to Covid and he told me to get another test.
‘I did and it was negative and he told me he would have to take it back to his superiors. He drove past and put the fine in my mailbox, it was the most cowardly thing I have ever seen,’ he said.
His mum died days later and Mr O’Davis said while he was trying to deal with the grief of her sudden passing he was treated to daily visits from police and the military.
‘I was treated like an absolute criminal, they came every day to make sure I wasn’t going to break the rules again.
‘The ridiculous thing is I never had Covid, I still haven’t had it and they are wasting all of these tax payer dollars coming after me,’ he said.
Mr O’Davis said he has never had Covid and got tested after being told to isolate for 14 days and after police approached him for breaking the rules
‘I checked in to the site where there was Covid from my truck, two metres above the gate, I drove in, put the concrete down and left without getting out or seeing anyone.’
Two days after legally leaving the two-week isolation Mr O’Davis laid his mum to rest, on his birthday, alongside ten family members.
‘There are 18 people in the immediate family but only ten could come, the others had to watch on the tv at home, this lady has been on earth for 74 years, it is disgusting,’ he said.
Despite his anger the ex-footballer, who grew up in Toowoomba, Queensland, decided to ‘do the right thing’ in court on Tuesday.
‘I was the only one there dressed in a suit, my mum taught me to have respect, I was there for six hours and it felt like I was in a reality tv show.
‘The police prepared a 50-page file and had three DVDs showing I had broken the rules, he put it forward like a criminal case,’ he said.
The court was almost empty by the time Mr O’Davis and his lawyer Paddy Kilmurray, who represented him for free, were called to face the magistrate.
‘He didn’t even open the file, which I think is the best punishment for that cop who spent a week working on it, sucking up tax-payer dollars,’ he said.
Mr O’Davis believes police may have seen his name, and picked him as a former NRL player, leading to the random inspection
Mr O’Davis said the fine was dropped in moments, with the pair told to ‘get out of here’ by the magistrate.
And the relief was palpable for Mr O’Davis who said he had his first decent night’s sleep in six months.
‘I slept through my alarm, it is the first night I haven’t tossed and turned since all this begun.
‘It has been really hard to lose my mum and to have this fine hanging over my head.
He said he has been struggling with his mental health since his mum’s passing and is looking forward to being able to move through his grief properly
What were the penalties for breaking public health orders?
Breach of orders made under the Public Health Act 2010launch is a criminal offence and attracts heavy penalties.
In the case of an individual, the maximum penalty is $11,000, or imprisonment for 6 months, or both and a further $5500 penalty may apply for each day the offence continues.
The NSW Police may also issue on-the-spot fines to individuals of:
$1000 for breach of a public health order
$500 for failure to comply with a direction to wear or carry a mask for those aged 18 years or older
$80 for failure to comply with a direction to wear or carry a mask for those aged 16 or 17 years of age
$40 for failure to comply with a direction to wear or carry a mask for those aged 15 or younger
$5000 for failure to comply with the obligation to answer questions asked by a contact tracer, provide your name and contact details to a contact tracer, provide true and accurate information to a contact tracer, and for spitting or coughing on a public official or other worker
$5000 for failure to comply with obligations to self-isolate if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, including staying at home or in hospital, as determined by a doctor, nurse or paramedic; providing details of contact with other persons and places you have visited; and complying with NSW Health guidelines
$5000 for failure to comply with obligations to self-isolate if you are a close contact of a person diagnosed with COVID-19
In the case of any corporation, the maximum penalty is $55,000 and a further $27,500 penalty may apply for each day the offence continues.
SOURCE: NSW GOV
‘I turned to the drink and my mental health took a huge hit, I am looking forward to being able to move past this now,’ he said.
He describes the police officer’s decision to dine him as ‘the most un-Australian thing ever’ and has criticised the Government for putting so much pressure on people over the last two years.
Mr O’Davis, who still lives in Lake Macquarie, near Newcastle has slammed authorities for wasting tax-payer money trying to collect on the fines.
He said he can now focus on being a good son to his dad, father to his kids and husband to his new wife, Louise.
The 49-year-old also said he has never previously had a problem with police and that they have served him well, but noted the officer who fined him has made an enemy for life.