A father who encouraged his 14-year-old son to ride a baggage carousel at the Canberra Airport as a “joke” avoided being handed a conviction when he was sentenced.
The 58-year-old, who runs a successful business in Queensland but cannot be named for legal reasons, had arrived in Canberra for a family holiday on 2 July 2023, the ACT Magistrates Court heard on Tuesday (3 September).
Magistrate Jane Campbell said he “goaded” his son to get onto the carousel and ride it into a secure area, which the child then did.
Another family member filmed the incident while the father laughed, and then they continued on their holiday.
They returned to the airport a few days later to go home but were stopped by police. The father made full admissions and said he hadn’t appreciated that he had put his son in danger.
His lawyer, Satomi Hamon of Aulich, said he thought it “might be funny” for his son to ride the carousel. He was shocked when he was stopped by police and had no “ill intention” when committing his offence.
Ms Hamon asked Magistrate Campbell to grant her client a non-conviction order.
She said he used his wealth to give back to the community in many ways and travelled a lot for work, so was worried about what effect a conviction could have on his ability to travel.
Prosecutor Natasha Purvis argued against such an order, saying the offence was “not trivial” and the son likely wouldn’t have considered any risk to his safety when being goaded by his father.
She also said general deterrence was an overwhelming factor in sentencing, saying that important rules at airports were followed and “not treated as a joke”.
Magistrate Campbell said she accepted there was no “malicious intent” to get into a secure area and that it seemed likely the father “thought it would be quite funny”.
She said the offence he pleaded guilty to, via a charge of aiding and abetting a person to enter a restricted area at an airport, was clearly intended “as a joke” and demonstrated a lapse in judgment rather than anything else.
The magistrate said he was of excellent character, had acted in caring and compassionate ways to the community, had demonstrated remorse and had no criminal history.
“He’s learnt a very important lesson, as no doubt his son,” she said.
She chose not to impose a conviction and dismissed the charge.