Melbourne tradie given free butter chicken for year after $1652 fine
A Melbourne tradie who was fined $1652 for flouting lockdown laws to get a fix of his favourite takeaway says he didn’t realise he was breaking the rule and will contest his fine.
Noel Atkinson made international headlines when he drove 32km for what turned out to be the world’s most expensive butter chicken.
The Melbourne tradie was hit with a $1652 fine for his Indian craving, leaving Werribee in the city’s west to pick up his meal in the CBD in July, flouting 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,” Mr Atkinson told A Current Affair on Tuesday.
“I travel over 100km every day for work, so 30km to the CBD is like a hop, skip and jump to me. It’s not that far at all.”
At the time, Mr Atkinson was pulled over by police and handed an on-the-spot fine.
He said it was a bit “hefty” and he was hoping to get a magistrate to waive his fine in court.
“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.
“I’m aware now that it was wrong. I think everyone else was too.”
Last week it was revealed the restaurant Mr Atkinson ordered from is giving him a free year’s supply of butter chicken.
Still, at $16.90 an order, Mr Atkinson would have to get the meal at least 97 times in the year to recoup his money.
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Mr Atkinson, who is half-Indian, told Times of India, he had to drive that far because it was after 11pm and all the restaurants in his area were closed.
“I wanted to have butter chicken,” he said.
“I grew up eating Indian food since my mother is from Ambala. I finally found one restaurant that was open but there was no home delivery to my place due to the distance, so I decided to go there.”
Mr Atkinson was pulled over by police just metres from the restaurant.
He said officers followed him for some time to make sure he was returning home after he got fined.
He said the free meals have made the fine “easier to swallow” and his escapade has made for a marketing line for the restaurant who have advertised saying: “Don’t risk a fine, we’ll deliver butter chicken that’s divine.”
In an Instagram post, they wrote: “We kinda get it … the lengths one can go to get that perfect butter chicken, especially during lockdown.
“Werribee you don’t need to risk a fine for a delightful Sunday night dinner.”
The restaurant said it was not supporting or promoting that people should step out in these times and break rules.
“We are only being compassionate for Noel and his love for our food as these are hard times for all and our empathy is towards all,” the eatery said.