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NHS nurse fined £10,000 for breaking Covid travel rules after Zimbabwe visit

by Staff reporter
15 Jun 2023 at 07:38hrs | Views
An NHS nurse said she was left thinking "dying is better" after she was handed £10,000 in fines for breaking the Covid travel rules when dealing with a family tragedy.

Nancy Gawe, 58, flew to Zimbabwe with her son in September 2021 to be with her mother after the murder of her father.

She was stopped at Heathrow terminal four on the return flight, having not booked her and her son into a quarantine hotel after visiting a "red list" country.

Gawe, a mental health nurse in the NHS, told a Border Force agent she believed she was flying in from an "amber list" country and had planned to quarantine herself at home.

On February 15 this year - 17 months after she was stopped at the airport - Gawe was issued with two £5,000 fixed penalty notices under the government's Health Protection regulations.

She did not pay the penalties and was then prosecuted, before ultimately being ordered to pay £808 by a magistrate.

In a letter to the court, the single mother said she was stunned to receive letters setting out the fines she faced, she said she has lost potential evidence since the original incident due to the delay, and detailed the impact on her mental health.

"This particular case was never in my mind", she wrote.

"I was told if I have not received anything in the next 3-4 weeks, that means (it's) not going further. Honestly I was told it will be that they won't have anything to do anymore."

Of evidence of her vaccinated status, Gawe said: "If I had known this case was coming, I should have kept everything in a safe place."

And she added: "When I received the first letter of money, I thought dying is better."

Gawe, from the Welsh town of Porth, told the court she had a negative Covid test before flying back to the UK, where she needed to attend her medical studies.

"Missing uni was not an option in terms of learning outcomes", she said.

"Knowing the profession I was going to get into, there was no chance I would risk coming back to England after testing positive."

Gawe, who became a fully-fledged nurse in April last year, told the court she made the trip after her father and nephew had been murdered, in order to comfort her mother.

"I had to go pay my last respects and help", she said.

Gawe, who told the court of money struggles, pleaded guilty to failing to possess a managed self-isolation package on arrival in England and failing to ensure a child possessed managed self-isolation package.

Gawe continued to complain in her mitigation about "reassurance from police" that she would not be penalised, which she said "made me believe it's all OK".

"Surprisingly after years this is proven wrong", she added. "The issue of trust is very questionable and I don't want to argue because all it does is leave me worrying."

The court, sitting behind closed doors last week in the Single Justice Procedure, imposed a £653 fine plus £90 in costs and a £65 victim surcharge.

Source - Evening Standard