AFL grand final border breacher pleads guilty in NT court, avoids more jail time

Hayden Burbank and Mark Babbage

A Melbourne man who breached COVID travel laws and falsified documents to attend the AFL grand final in Perth last year has avoided more jail time.

Key points:

  • Mark Babbage pleaded guilty to three charges
  • He was handed a six-month suspended prison sentence
  • Babbage previously served a three-month prison sentence in Western Australia

Mark Babbage, 38, appeared in Darwin Local Court via video link from Melbourne this afternoon, where he pleaded guilty to three charges relating to the offending.

Babbage and Hayden Burbank were arrested shortly after the grand final and served three months in a West Australian prison.

Judge Alan Woodcock today described Babbage’s actions as “foolish, dishonest and deceitful”.

The court heard Babbage and Burbank travelled to the Northern Territory last September after falsifying a rental agreement using a Darwin address.

The pair then broke isolation requirements and fraudulently obtained NT driver’s licences before flying to Perth to watch the game.

Hayden Burbank and Mark Babbage
Burbank and Babbage served three months in WA’s Hakea Prison.(Supplied: WA Police)

Consequences to offender brought on ‘by his own hand’

Babbage’s lawyer Luke McLachlan urged the judge to take into consideration the jail term his client had already served in Western Australia, and the “punishment” Babbage had suffered, including “losing his career”, because of the incident.

Judge Woodcock responded by saying the consequences were brought on “by his own hand”.

“Everything is OK now, because the rest of the community, the great bulk of the community, did the right thing,” the judge said.

Babbage was handed a fully suspended six-month prison sentence and placed on a six-month good behaviour bond.

Last month, Burbank was handed a six-month fully suspended prison sentence by the Darwin Local Court.



Author: Ivan Robinson