“Whilst there are no express errors in the sentencing remarks of [Magistrate Matthews], it is difficult to understand, with the greatest respect to the learned magistrate, how a sentence of immediate imprisonment could have been reached,” she said.
“In my view, while I do not consider that a pecuniary penalty was open given the seriousness of the appellant’s conduct, options other than immediate imprisonment, including a suspended sentence or partially suspended sentence, were clearly both open and appropriate in all of the circumstances.
“In those circumstances, I consider a sentence of immediate imprisonment of 6 months and 1 day should not have been imposed.”
Vander Sanden snuck into WA in early August after hitching a ride with a truck driver she met at a Mildura roadhouse.
She hid in a car inside the truck as it passed through the border checkpoint, and was then dropped at a petrol station to be collected by a friend.
She then “shacked up” with the friend at his Scarborough unit and ignored police’s attempts to contact her to establish her whereabouts after she failed to arrive in Perth by plane on August 11, as expected.
Her lawyers argued she should have received a fine while state prosecutors pushed for jail time.
The maximum penalty for failing to comply with a direction under the Emergency Management Act is a $50,000 fine or 12 months imprisonment.
Vander Sanden spent three weeks at Bandyup Women’s Prison prior to her appeal.
More than 100 West Australians have been charged with the offence, with most already dealt with through the courts receiving a fine.