Boxing champion Anthony Mundine fights ‘oppressive’ Covid charge

Adelaide LangNewsWire
He has espoused anti-vaccination views online. Instagram
Camera IconHe has espoused anti-vaccination views online. Instagram Credit: News Corp Australia

The lawyer for a former NRL star turned champion boxer has railed against an “unjustifiably oppressive” move to prosecute his client for allegedly flouting public health laws during the pandemic.

Anthony Mundine, 49, faced Bankstown Local Court on Friday after pleading not guilty to the charge of not complying with a Covid notice direction on July 21, 2021.

Police allege the retired athlete, known as ‘The Man’, failed to scan a QR code to check in to a Bunnings store in Kingsgrove, in Sydney’s south, when the state was in lockdown.

The outspoken former St George Illawarra Dragons player was also allegedly not wearing a mask while he was inside the store, but claimed he was exempt from the mask mandate.

Camera IconFormer NRL player and boxer Anthony Mundine is accused of flouting public health orders during the Covid pandemic. NewsWire/ Monique Harmer Credit: News Corp Australia

On Friday, his barrister Christopher Parkin applied for a permanent stay of proceedings and argued his client’s prosecution constituted “an abuse of process”.

“It is unfairly, unjustifiably oppressive on Mr Mundine,” he told the court.

“(And) it would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”

Mr Parkin noted the penalty notice issued to Mr Mundine was “identical” to one that was found to be invalid in a NSW Supreme Court decision handed down by Justice Dina Yehia last year.

The ruling reinforced Justice Yehia’s initial ruling in 2022, which prompted the cancellation of more than 33,000 Covid penalties that had not provided sufficient detail about the offence.

Mr Parkin told the court Mr Mundine’s fine fell into the category of penalties that had been dismissed by Revenue NSW.

“But because Mr Mundine elected to take this matter to court some two months before this decision, the Fine Administrator … did not pick up this matter,” he said.

Magistrate Glenn Walsh said Justice Yehia’s decision showed a valid penalty notice required identification of statutory basis and asked whether that was elucidated for Mr Mundine.

Police prosecutor Yavin Kumar said Mr Mundine had been questioned by police in an exchange captured on body worn camera, but he couldn’t recall if the statutory basis for the offence had been raised.

He explained the case against the former boxing champion relied on evidence external to the penalty notice, such as witness statements and CCTV footage.

Magistrate Walsh said any decision he made on staying the proceedings would ultimately end up in the state’s highest court.

“If I grant it, you’ll run off to the Supreme Court,” he told Mr Kumar.

“If I don’t, you’ll run off to the Supreme Court,” he said to Mr Parkin.

After conferring with Mr Mundine, Mr Parkin withdrew the application for a permanent stay.

Magistrate Walsh then adjourned the matter until August, when it is expected to be finalised.

It will be the fifth time Mr Mundine has fronted court over the three-year-old allegation.

He has espoused anti-vaccination views online. Instagram
Camera IconHe has espoused anti-vaccination views online. Instagram Credit: News Corp Australia
Camera IconMr Mundine will fight the charge in August. Credit: News Corp Australia, NewsWire/ Monique Harmer

Outside the courthouse, he told NewsWire he was “looking forward to it all being done.”

The 49-year-old has continued to use social media to share his anti-vaccination views, telling his tens of thousands of followers to “do your research, it’s a death wish”.

In February, he shared a photo of himself lying on the ground underneath a vaccination syringe with the caption “the writing is on the wall” with two skull emojis.

Mr Mundine rose to prominence as a rugby player after he signed with St George Illawarra Dragons at the age of 18.

He sensationally made the switch to boxing in 2000 and went on to win three world titles.

Originally published as Boxing champion Anthony Mundine fights ‘oppressive’ Covid charge

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