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Man fined $1,652 for getting Indian curry refuses to pay

The Melbourne man slapped with a hefty fine for driving more than 30km from his home to buy butter chicken says he will contest the penalty. 

Noel Atkinson, 48, is accused of flouting stay-at-home orders when he drove 32km from Werribee in Melbourne’s west to the CBD to pick up a meal from Indian restaurant Desi Dhaba on July 18. 

Within metres of the restaurant, Mr Atkinson was stopped by police and slapped with a $1,652 fine.

‘It’s a bit hefty. I’m going to contest it. Have my day in court and hopefully I can get the magistrate to waive the fine,’ he told A Current Affair.

He was one of 74 people who were hit with fines for breaching lockdown that day. 

As a tradesman, Mr Atkinson travels 100km every day for work and thought driving 32km for butter chicken would have been acceptable under the stay-at-home orders.  

‘I thought you could travel for food. The rules aren’t specific. They need to be more black and white, not grey,’ he said. 

‘I didn’t realise I was (breaking the rules). If I knew I was, I wouldn’t have done it. I would have stayed home.’

Desi Dhaba owner Amit Teteja said he was taken aback by Mr Atkinson’s dedication to getting his butter chicken and will now provide him a year’s worth for free.

Indian restaurants across the city have latched on to the trending topic by rolling out marketing campaigns for their delivery services, such as ‘save $1,650 by staying home’.  

The strict lockdown was reintroduced in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire on July 8 to stem the tide of rising coronavirus cases. 

There are thousands of police and military personnel checking vehicles at roadblocks across Melbourne while the lockdown is in place.

Police have also conducted thousands of spot checks at homes, business and public places across the state.

Residents are only allowed to leave their homes for work, food, medical reasons or for exercise.

Residents in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire must also wear a mask or face covering when they’re not at home, unless exempt. 

People in the locked-down areas who do not wear a mask when outside their residence for one of the four allowed reasons could face a $200 fine. 

Victoria recorded a total number of 384 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and a further six deaths.   

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