Christopher Martin has pleaded guilty to travelling from Victoria to the Shire in a boat during COVID lockdown. Picture: Eliza Barr
Christopher Martin has pleaded guilty to travelling from Victoria to the Shire in a boat during COVID lockdown. Picture: Eliza Barr

Crab fisherman tasered after fleeing COVID quarantine in boat

A NSW crab fisherman was tasered in a dramatic on-water confrontation with police after he skipped COVID-19 quarantine on his way home from WA in his new fishing boat.

Christopher Martin, 61, has paid a heavy price for fleeing mandated COVID-19 quarantine during a doomed voyage in a boat he had just bought from Fremantle to his home in Tweed Heads.

NSW Health had ordered Martin to spend a week on his boat in quarantine near Eden after he stopped for fuel in Port Fairy in Victoria.

However, Martin - frustrated and desperate to get home - fled in the middle of the night and was tasered during his on-water arrest near Cronulla after producing a knife and threatening self-harm.

At Sutherland Local Court on Tuesday Martin pleaded guilty to failing to comply with COVID-19 public health directions to self-quarantine and was fined $5000 by Magistrate Michael Crompton.

"As an example of failing to comply, it's quite serious," Mr Crompton said.

"Negotiators were involved, and a taser was involved - he was given opportunities to comply and he hasn't."

To add to his misery, Martin had to pay $3000 for a hotel quarantine stint after dodging the cost-free option of spending a week on his own boat in Eden.

Martin's solicitor told the court he was struggling with his mental health and unexpected expenses arising from issues with his new boat when he decided to flee.

"The pressure of finances became even greater for him, and it seemed life was barely worth living so he just left and headed up the coast," Martin's solicitor told the court.

"He wasn't hiding from anybody - he did not pose a threat to the community."

Martin had tested negative for COVID-19 and had not come into contact with a single soul during his fuel stop in Victoria before he fled quarantine.

"My client had no intention of endangering the community," his solicitor told the court.

"It wasn't rational but he wasn't trying to risk the health of people on shore - he just wanted to be out heading to Tweed."

Police prosecutor Scott Thomson told the court Martin's repeated disobedience had cost taxpayers a large amount of money due to the involvement of the Marine Area Command, the Tactical Operations Unit and negotiators.

"He had an agenda - he did not want to comply with the public health directions," Sgt Thomson told the court.



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