Sydney man jailed for travel to regions

A “naive” southwestern Sydney man who travelled more than 800 kilometres in breach of COVID-19 restrictions has been jailed.

Trong Duc Nguyen, 31, was arrested at Armidale railway station on Sunday after getting off a bus from Tenterfield.

The Cabramatta man had travelled from his home in the Fairfield local government area to the northern tablelands earlier that week by train via Newcastle.

His trip – which brought him within 20 kilometres of the Queensland border – was uncovered by police conducting daily checks on public transport passengers at Armidale.

The former personal trainer faced an Armidale court on Monday and pleaded guilty to breaching the public health order concerning travelling outside metropolitan Sydney.

Magistrate Roger Prowse immediately sentenced the Sydney man to two months in prison.

“He has been sentenced purely on breaching that public health act,” NSW Police Acting Superintendent David Cooper told AAP on Tuesday.

“That, to me, indicates the level of seriousness of the matter.”

Solicitor Peter Kemp denied his client acted out of malice but noted people in regional areas were “petrified” of catching COVID.

“(The behaviour) was not arrogant, it was not done maliciously,” he told AAP on Tuesday.

“My client was quite naive and is sorry for what he did.”

The Fairfield local government area is a focal point of Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak and the suburb of Cabramatta had 117 active cases on Tuesday, making it one of the most highly concentrated coronavirus postcodes in Sydney.

Armidale was placed into lockdown on August 7 after two cases were recorded in the community.

Two further cases have since been reported.

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