Granny fined £1,589 for accidentally bringing chicken sandwich through customs

A grandmother was left majorly out-of-pocket this year after accidentally forgetting to declare a sandwich she had in her backpack when entering Australia. The OAP had shoved a chicken and lettuce sandwich into her backpack at Christchurch Airport ahead of a 4am flight.

When the 77-year-old landed in Brisbane to house-sit for some pals she was taken aside by bio-security officers. June Armstrong was then informed that her sarnie would cost her $3300 (£1,589) as she was being handed a fine by customs.

Many of us have forgotten what we’ve bought at the airport or packed from home when taking an early flight, but unfortunately, for the pensioner customs were on-the-ball and fined her for the sandwich which was in her bag. She claims she had planned to eat it during her flight, but fell asleep instead.

READ MORE: Brits warned 'hidden' holidays rule could mean hefty charges if you cancel

Read all the latest stories from the Daily Star's travel team

When she woke up, June filled in her declaration form stating her prescription medication, but completely forgot about the sandwich. She hopes to warn others about the rule and ensure they double check their belongings as the fine has taken a massive hit on her pension.

June told the NZ Herald: "I was just sobbing and said '$NZ3300 for a little sandwich?'" She thought initially that the official would just throw the dish away, but when they came back from discussions they allegedly said that it was "12 points" and so she would be fined.

Initially, the gran thought it was a joke, but upon realising the serious nature of the fee she broke down into tears. A staff member apparently told her to appeal the fine within the 28-day payment period, however this was unsuccessful and she had to pay.

June said: "My husband kept saying, 'Just pay it'. I said, 'It’s our pension, we can’t afford this'." She noted that they have around £14,400 in savings but otherwise live on their pension payments.

When she sent an email asking why she was fined for a first offence she received no response. In the correspondence she also noted that the sandwich was packaged and sealed and said that the experience had impacted her mental health.

Now, she wants others to avoid the scenario. She explained: "Everybody I show the fine to is dumbfounded, they just can’t believe it."

The fine was so large as there are strong limits on meat being brought into and around the country. Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry claimed June would need an import permit to bring the dish into the country noting there are "strict import conditions" that change due to disease outbreaks.

It added to "Uncanned meats, including vacuum-sealed items, are not allowed into Australia unless accompanied by an import permit. Chicken meat poses a significant biosecurity risk to Australia, particularly the risk of highly pathogenic notifiable avian influenza (HPNAI) virus which can cause severe disease and mortality across Australia’s poultry industry, and may also affect wild bird populations".

You must declare all food imports on arrival in Australia and any items that don’t meet import rules wil be removed. Fines handed out for breaches can total ip to $6260 (£3014). In severe cases, holidaymakers may even have their visas cancelled for breaches of biosecurity.

Source: Read Full Article