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Melbourne Demon fans arrested in regional WA after ‘sneaking into state to attend grand final’

By Heather McNeillLucy Manly and Gary Adshead

Melbourne bar and restaurant owner Hayden Burbank and financial planner Mark Babbage have been arrested after allegedly entering Western Australia by falsely claiming to be Darwin residents and attending the AFL grand final.

The pair were taken into custody in WA’s south west region on Tuesday morning after police made a public plea to find them on Monday night.

A photo on the AFL’s Instagram account shows Mr Burbank, who owns Chapel Street venue Morris Jones, inside the Demons locker rooms celebrating and drinking with players after the club’s 57-year drought-breaking win at Optus Stadium on Saturday.

The pair flew from Darwin to Perth on September 22 after having arrived in the Northern Territory from Melbourne on September 14, WA police said.

There are no border restrictions between WA and the NT, which are both COVID-free states, however, anyone who has been in Victoria in the past 14 days cannot enter WA without approval.

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said authorities held concerns about the men’s potential breaches of WA’s border directions.

“We assume they came for the football,” he said.

“The concern is they’re from Melbourne, but on the assessment provided by these two individuals they were allowed in.

“We want to talk to them about the information that allowed them to get that approval.”

After attending the grand final, along with 61,000 others, the pair travelled south to a regional tourist area in the state, police said.

Asked if Melbourne players, or any other attendees at the grand final, had been asked to get tested, a WA Health spokesman said the agency was awaiting advice from police.

The alleged breach comes after a Western Bulldogs fan attempted to enter WA from Queensland in the days before the grand final.

The man was fined $2500 and granted a spent conviction for the offence.

Mr Burbank, 49, has been vocal about his views towards Victorian Premier Dan Andrews as well as his anti-lockdown stance.

“Every other state is operating as normal and we are stuck in this shit show that he created,” he shared on Facebook last September.

Melbourne Football Club has been contacted for comment.

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