New Zealand Police v Rawnsley [2021] NZDC 25342

Published 27 January 2022

Sentencing — failing to comply with a COVID-19 order — discharge without conviction — Sentencing Act 2002, s 106. Two defendants appeared for sentence on charges of failing to comply with a COVID-19 order. They had left Auckland during an Alert Level 4 lockdown to travel to Wanaka for a holiday. They did so by deliberately misusing travel exemptions that they had previously been granted, and without waiting to receive negative COVID test results. They returned to Auckland some three and a half days later, after the police became aware of the offending. The offending had received considerable public attention and the Court commented that both defendants had been subjected to intense attacks on social media. The first defendant had subsequently resigned from her job. The offending was aggravated by planning and premeditation; creating a public health risk; misusing legitimate travel exemptions; and in the case of the second defendant, engaging in deliberate deception. In mitigation, the defendants had pleaded guilty, were of otherwise good character, were remorseful, had apologised and accepted responsibility, and had made donations to charity. Also the first defendant's career had been placed in jeopardy, and she sought a discharge without conviction to mitigate the professional damage she had suffered. For both defendants, the Court set a start point for sentence of a $1500 fine. Taking the mitigating features into account, the Court sentenced the second defendant to a fine of $750 as well as costs. The first defendant's offending had additional mitigating features in that the second defendant had pressured her into it. The Court granted the first defendant a discharge without conviction, although requiring her to make a $500 donation to charity. Judgment Date: 21 December 2021