Australia

Shock development with ‘border jumpers’

Alleged Brisbane border jumpers Diana Lasu (left) and Olivia Muranga (right) have had their charges dropped.

NSW Police have dropped charges against two Queensland women who passed through Sydney before they allegedly lied about travelling to Melbourne during the city’s COVID-19 outbreak.

Authorities in Queensland charged Diana Lasu and Olivia Muranga in July with fraud and providing false documents after they allegedly fibbed to avoid the 14-day self-isolation period after returning from Victoria.

The case sparked outrage in the sunshine state when it emerged both women had contracted coronavirus in Melbourne, where they attended a house party.

The Brisbane women are no longer charged with lying on their border declarations at Sydney Airport.
The Brisbane women are no longer charged with lying on their border declarations at Sydney Airport.

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They infected at least three other people and sent the state’s contact tracers scrambling.

Queensland’s border was closed to Victoria at the time.

The duo were due to appear before the Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday separately charged over alleged false declarations they made as they stopped over at Sydney Airport on July 21 on their way home.

NSW Police handed Ms Muranga, 20, a court attendance notice for knowingly making a false or misleading statement on November 19.

Olivia Muranga.
Olivia Muranga.
Diana Lasu.
Diana Lasu.

In January Ms Lasu, 21, was also charged by NSW Police with knowingly making a false or misleading statement and making a false or misleading statement for authority or benefit.

Neither woman nor their lawyers fronted the court on Wednesday where it was heard all charges were being withdrawn against both of them.

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Their friend Haja Timbo, who was also charged in Queensland, was not prosecuted in NSW.

Ms Timbo did not contract the virus.

All three women remain before courts in Brisbane where it has previously been heard that they intend to plead guilty.

Olivia Muranga, from Logan, arrives at Brisbane Arrest Court in October. Picture: Peter Wallis
Olivia Muranga, from Logan, arrives at Brisbane Arrest Court in October. Picture: Peter Wallis

Ms Muranga at the time worked as a cleaner at Parklands Christian School and attended work three times after returning from Victoria before calling in sick.

Ms Lasu and Ms Muranga also spent time in the community while infectious, shutting down schools and shopping centres.

The alleged breaches prompted Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to declare her fury as she announced the state would close its borders to NSW.

Court reporter

Sydney

Heath Parkes-Hupton is a court reporter with NCA NewsWire, joining the organisation at its launch in June 2020. In that time he has delved into Sydney’s court system and covered national breaking news. Before t… Read more

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