'It was a nightmare': Woman jailed for hitch-hiking over closed border freed
A Western Australian woman sentenced to six months in jail for hitch-hiking across the state's closed border has been freed after her lawyers won an appeal to have the decision overturned.
Asher Vander Sanden says she is deeply sorry to the people of WA for breaching the state's public health measures.
She was today ordered to complete 50 hours of community service after her original sentence, the nation's harshest punishment for a quarantine breach, was overturned.
"I understand completely that people are upset at me and I did take a huge risk at other people's expense, and I apologise," she said.
The construction student spent three weeks of her six-month jail term in Bandyup prison, two of those in solitary confinement, before being released on bail.
"I felt like I got kicked in the stomach. I was gobsmacked, I was shocked … Just completely powerless," she said.
"It was a nightmare. It was cold, it was boring. I read five books in five days, I walked around the cell for entertainment."
Vander Sanden said she felt backed into a corner after her flight home into WA was cancelled last month, deciding to hitch a ride with a truckie before self-isolating for two weeks.
She also said she never decided to flout the state's coronavirus restrictions in order to avoid paying thousands for a hotel quarantine stay.
"I felt alone and I had to make my own way home, because everything I tried at that point failed," she said.
Vander Sanden said she deserved to be punished for her actions, but also called for more support for people in her situation so that they didn't also make the same mistake.
"Don't risk your reputation or your freedom — it's not worth it," she said.
"I embarrassed my family in a sense … And I'm sorry to my family for that. Just want to learn from this experience and grow from this experience and move forward."
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