Auckland Covid Escapees Plead Guilty

The couple charged with breaching the Auckland Covid-19 lockdown when they left to holiday in Wanaka have pleaded guilty in their first appearance following Covid-related court delays.

Lawyer Hannah Rawnsley, 26 and William Willis, 36, appeared via video in the Papakura District Court before Judge BGruce Davidson who is to decide the sentence today, which includes an application for discharge without conviction for Rawnsley.k

Willis is the son of District Court Judge Mary-Beth Sharp.  Judge Davidson from Wellington was given the role to avoid any conflict of interest involving Judge Sharp.

Auckland Covid Escapees Plead Guilty 1

The pair were charged on September 22 with failing to comply with a Covid-19 health order.  The maximum sentence is up to six months’ prison and a $4000 fine.

Prosecutor Natalie Walker submitted that the actions taken were carefully planned , with the first ticket booked within hours of an announcement that Auckland would stay in lockdown but the rest of New Zealand would move to alert level 2.  She suggested a starting point of two months’ prison but with the remorse and guilty pleas the sentence of community service would be sufficient.

Rachael Reed QC appeared for both defendants, saying:

“They will regret making this trip for the rest of their lives.”

“They understand that by their actions they have tarnished their own images.”

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