A Melbourne socialite who flouted strict border rules to attend the AFL Grand Final has walked free after three months in a Perth jail, apologising for his “selfish and stupid decisions”.
Prominent bar owner Hayden Burbank touched down at Melbourne Airport on Monday afternoon, after his prison release.
His financial planner friend Mark Babbage also spent three months behind bars over the border breach after the Demons fanatics snuck into Perth to watch the match.
Mr Burbank told waiting reporters he was sorry for his actions.
“I’d like to apologise to the people of Western Australia and the Northern Territory for putting you and your state and territory at risk with our actions,” the bar owner said.
“I‘d like to apologise to the healthcare workers Australia wide, the doctors and nurses who’ve put their lives on the line and worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.
“We are deeply sorry for our selfish and stupid decisions we made.”
The mad Demons fans used false documents to attend the sellout game, leaving Melbourne for Darwin on September 14, then flying into Perth on September 22.
The pair went to the premiership decider at Optus Stadium on September 25 and were snapped mingling among players in the change rooms after the team’s drought-breaking win against the Western Bulldogs.
The images were posted on the AFL’s official Instagram account.
The pair breached Western Australia’s strict border rules because they did not meet criteria to get an exemption to enter the state – coming from a high risk jurisdiction – did not have a Covid-19 test 72 hours before leaving it and show evidence of a negative result, and did not declare on their G2G form that they had come from Victoria.
Both were charged with three counts of breaching the Emergency Management Act – which has a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail or a fine of $50,000 – and fraud for the falsified documents.
BORDER BREACHER ‘SORRY’: Morris Jones owner Hayden Burbank apologizes after landing in Melbourne from Perth following a jail stint for his Grand Final attendance against WA covid rules. He and mate still face charges in NT. @10NewsFirstMelb#springst#covid19vic@10NewsFirstpic.twitter.com/UIhfOMSJ7w
— Simon Love (@SimoLove) December 27, 2021
“Even though we were both double vaccinated before we left Melbourne, we’d both received a negative test result in Darwin before arriving in Perth, the time in jail made us realise and understand the seriousness of our offending,” Mr Burbank said.
He also had a special apology for friends at home who worked in healthcare, saying “it’s you we feel that we’ve let down the most “.
“We know how hard you worked and the sacrifices you’ve made throughout the pandemic,” he added.
He also thanked family and friends for their “unwavering support” during the saga.
Mr Burbank said he would not comment further, given he has further charges pending in the Northern Territory.