A young man who escaped from a safe recovery clinic twice in three days, infecting COVID-19, was jailed for four months because he presented an illegal risk of becoming ill with the virus.
For five days last month, when he learned he had COVID-19, Nathan Hetherington tried to flee Alfred Hospital and twice exploded from the Albert Road Clinic, a Melbourne recovery center for people with mental health problems.
Police said he risks making others sick by his behavior, which included riding on the back of a tram on Sept. 18 and entering the grounds of the Royal Botanic Garden. He was arrested at the gardens and arrested.
Hetherington repeatedly kicked and damaged doors in the clinic to break its “red belt” and left through a fire exit on September 16. He then smashed the window of a staff room to leave on September 18. Melbourne Magistrates Court has heard he must also be detained by security personnel at The Alfred on September 14 when he tried to leave the hospital after he tested positive.
Magistrate Gregory McNamara on Wednesday jailed the 22-year-old for four months after he pleaded guilty to reckless conduct endangering serious injury and two charges of criminal damage. Hetherington chose to be convicted after his lawyer asked the magistrate for a sentence for a guilty plea.
Mr McNamara said he had no choice but to impose imprisonment.
“A lot of people risked getting this disease through his behavior. It’s so serious to do,” he said.
The magistrate said Hetherington risked police officers, security guards and medical staff at The Alfred and the clinic while those workers protected and served the community.
Hetherington’s lawyer, Tut Tut, admitted on Tuesday that his client’s behavior was “terrible” but said he was now COVID-negative.