‘Obnoxious’ COVID breacher to spend Christmas behind bars

A NORTH Coast man who refused to abide by COVID-19 rules will spend Christmas in prison.

James Desmond Murphy, 38, appeared by videolink from custody in Tweed Heads Local Court on November 25.

Supported in court by his partner and mother, the Banora Point man plead guilty to not complying with a direction about the COVID-19 pandemic, failing to leave when required, using offensive language in public, intimidating police and intimidation.

Court documents reveal Murphy and a group of men went to the Ivory Tavern in Tweed Heads about 11.50am on August 10.

The father-of-one refused to provide ID or sign into the COVID-19 safe tracking app and intimidated and threatened the manager.

Murphy stood up, put his beer on the table and stood so close to the manager, the man was forced to take a step back.

Murphy then called the staff member “a soft c—“.

“If someone is going to kick me out it will need to be by force and it will be a tough morning for those f—— dogs,” he said.

After he refused to leave the premises, police were called.

Murphy eventually left the pub and was in the car park with the group of men when police arrived.

He once again refused to give his name or any ID when asked and became aggressive and abusive towards officers.

Murphy’s defence solicitor Jodi Allen explained her client was drunk and had “not means or intent” to carry out his threats.

She said he accepted his behaviour was “belligerent and obnoxious” to the staff member and wanted to apologise to the police involved.

The court heard the integrated seaman was stood down in the pandemic, had found work as a support worker for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and intended to become a personal trainer.

Magistrate Michael Dakin said it was “extraordinary” that the whole situation could have been avoided by “something so simple” as co-operating with staff like Murphy’s companions had.

Magistrate Dakin cited Murphy’s criminal history, involving multiple entries of violence including assault and wounding which had previously landed him in prison, when sentencing.

He said while it was recognised COVID-19 checks and registration requirements were an inconvenience, they were “absolutely essential”

Murphy could be seen shaking his head while he was convicted and given a head sentence of nine months imprisonment.

He will be eligible for parole on May 9, 2021.

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