The Sydney millionaire who sparked Byron Bay’s snap lockdown in August has skipped the country for Serbia amid an ongoing feud with his estranged wife over a broken umbrella.
Zoran Radovanovic, 52, spent two weeks in hospital with Covid after making the eight-hour drive to the NSW beachside town from his Rose Bay home in Sydney’s east – potentially spreading a trail of contagion throughout the tourist hotspot.
The father-of-two pleaded guilty on October 11 to four charges of failing to comply with electronic registration – or not using QR codes when entering businesses – but did not admit to three additional charges of not complying with Covid directions.
Radovanovic maintains he did not violate stay-home orders because he was legally inspecting a property in Byron, but police allege he did not have a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave the eastern suburbs.
On Thursday, the businessman was a no show in court for unrelated domestic violence charges because he had skipped the country, Magistrate Michael Barko told Sydney’s Downing Centre.
Zoran Radovanovic is pictured with his son on a SeaDoo eight years ago with his son Kristian, who is now 19
‘The client is overseas and has a new address in Serbia,’ Mr Barko told the court.
Radovanovic was charged on December 2 last year with intentionally or recklessly destroy/damage a black umbrella that belonged to his wife Tiana MacDowell at their Rose Bay home.
Mr Barko said the court received correspondence from Radovanovic’s lawyer on Tuesday to say the Sydneysider would maintain his plea of not guilty.
It is understood Ms MacDowell had AVOs taken out against her husband, which will remain in place until the case returns to court on May 24, 2022.
It is unclear how the Covid-denier managed to leave Australia due to pandemic border closures preventing citizens from flying internationally without an exemption.
Daily Mail Australia understands Radovanovic and Ms MacDowell have split up, with neighbours saying removalists filled a shipping container outside their home last week.
Radovanovic has been charged with destroying an umbrella that belonged to his wife Tiana Macdowell (pictured)
The businessman and his teenage son Kristian have not been seen since, but Ms MacDowell remained at the property with their dog and black Mercedes SUV.
Neighbours were pleased to see the back of Radovanovic, claiming they repeatedly saw police cars at the address since he moved in – long before the Byron Bay incident.
One neighbour said there were about eight or nine police cars outside the home at one stage.
Kristian also faced Lismore Local Court earlier this month after joining his father on the illegal 750km journey jaunt up north.
Unlike his father, the 19-year-old pleaded guilty to all four charges against him: two of not complying with electronic registration, one of not complying with directions and one of not wearing a face mask in public transport or a taxi.
Kristian was also treated for Covid-19 in the same hospital as his father, while his mother, who didn’t go on the trip to Byron Bay, was in a Sydney hospital with the virus.
Another teenage child of Radovanovic was also treated in Lismore Hospital for Covid-19.
His teenage son Kristian, 19, (pictured) who was last year convicted of drink driving, has also been charged with a series of offences after allegedly joining his father on the trip
Radovanovic’s case will be to be mentioned again at Lismore on November 15 and the son’s matter will be mentioned in Waverley Local Court on November 8.
The father said in late-August that the trip was for legitimate reasons and reiterated that had he known he was Covid-positive he would not have left home.
‘You think I knew I had corona(virus) in my pocket and took it and then went up there?’ he told the Daily Telegraph.
‘No, it’s ridiculous, what kind of imbecile would do that?
‘They said my wife was in hospital and I left her here, that’s bulls***. I’ve done nothing wrong.’
The businessman’s history of drug and theft convictions was revealed to the Adminstrative Appeals Tribunal in 2000 when he successfully won a bid to stay in Australia with his wife, despite not having the correct visa.
He was almost thrown out of the country 22 years ago when he was discovered to be living illegally in Australia with a string of convictions and a suspended jail sentence, an AAT judgement revealed.
Radovanovic has insisted he didn’t know he was infectious with the virus when he and his two teenage children drove to Byron Bay (pictured, a masked man riding his bike through Byron Bay)
He emigrated to Australia from the former Yugoslavia in April 1991 and had already overstayed his visa when he was convicted of two charges of burglary and car theft in Melbourne in February 1992.
He was sentenced to six months in jail on each charge but the sentence was suspended for 12 months.
The following month he appeared to have fled the country with his future wife Tiana Macdowell (nee Simic) when their passports were both scanned boarding an international flight from Melbourne Airport.
But Radovanovic insists he never left the country and instead moved to Lightning Ridge where he lived illegally for years under the false name of Zoran Cuk.
His future wife later returned to Australia and married Radovanovic, but his application for Australian citizenship was rejected when he was discovered to have been an illegal alien.
The former ‘aimless’ part-time plastics worker sold this home in Forestville in 2020 for $2.25 million before moving to Rose Bay in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs
He then faced further drugs charges in 1998 when cops raided two addresses in Melbourne and found him with accomplices and 40 cannabis plants being grown.
A hearing by the AAT took place before the court date and decided to take pity of him, allowing him to stay in the country.
The hearing found Radovanovic ‘does little to instill confidence that [he] has the inherent qualities of good character’.
The tribunal deputy president B.M. Forrest added: ‘I am not satisfied that he passes the character test.’
The tribunal said the Serbian part-time plastics worker’s life in 2000 was ‘aimless’ but hoped he would ‘demonstrate his capacity to make a contribution to Australia’ if he was allowed to stay.
Some 21 years later, Radovanovic sold his home in Forestville in 2020 for $2.25 million – which had been registered in his wife’s name – and moved to the family’s new home in Rose Bay.
Byron Bay’s patient zero breaks his silence as he FURIOUSLY denies flouting Covid rules
The Covid-infected businessman who plunged Byron Bay into a week-long snap lockdown insisted he didn’t break any rules when he travelled to the coastal town to view a property two months ago.
The father-of-two in August finally broke his silence on the controversial trip up north, following two weeks he spent at Lismore Hospital recovering from Covid-19.
Radovanovic has insisted he didn’t know he was infected with the virus when he and his two teenage children drove to the sun-drenched hangout.
The businessman said the trip was for legitimate reasons and reiterated that had he known he was Covid-positive he would not have left his Rose Bay home.
In northern NSW, angry locals in Byron Shire, Lismore and Ballina Shore were plunged into a week-long lockdown on August 9 while at least 14 different hotspots flagged in the wake of the illegal trip (pictured, a usually busy street in Byron Bay earlier this month)
‘No, it’s ridiculous, what kind of imbecile would do that?,’ he told the The Daily Telegraph.
Radovanovic vowed to fight the charge of breaching public health orders handed to him by NSW Police.
‘They said my wife was in hospital and I left her here, that’s bulls***. I’ve done nothing wrong, I want to tell my story,’ he said.
Neighbours told Daily Mail Australia they’d seen her take her two dogs for walks upon returning home but that she’d remained tightlipped about the allegations.
‘They’re very quiet at the best of times,’ one neighbour said.
It is understood Ms Radovanovic may have transmitted the virus to her husband before she knew she was infectious.
NSW public health orders technically allow locked-down Sydney residents an exemption to travel if they are ‘inspecting a potential new place of residence’.