Accused MIQ absconder appears in court

Author
Craig Kapitan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 21 Oct 2021, 2:34PM
Government MIQ facility at the Holiday Inn, Mangere, Auckland. (Photo / Sylvie Whinray)
Government MIQ facility at the Holiday Inn, Mangere, Auckland. (Photo / Sylvie Whinray)

Accused MIQ absconder appears in court

Author
Craig Kapitan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 21 Oct 2021, 2:34PM

A woman with Covid-19 who was the subject of a manhunt for much of yesterday after allegedly giving MIQ guards the slip spoke to a judge on Thursday about her new criminal charge.

The Flat Bush resident, 46, was put on speaker and a mobile phone and was handed to Auckland District Court Judge Josephine Bouchier for the first appearance hearing.

The woman was taken to the Auckland District Custody Unit in Mt Eden yesterday afternoon after turning herself in. Judge Bouchier allowed her to be remanded on bail under the condition she return to the Holiday Inn MIQ facility in Māngere and stay there until released.

She was allowed to put off entering a plea until her next court appearance next month.

The woman has been charged with intentionally failing to comply with an order made under the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act by failing to return to the MIQ facility.

If convicted, she could face up to six months' jail and a $4000 fine.

The woman was one of three people, all of whom have tested positive for Covid-19, who were charged yesterday with escaping the same facility. Two men were arrested after they allegedly walked to a nearby dairy to purchase cigarettes.

Authorities said the woman had previously been seriously ill with the virus in hospital but was set to be transferred on Tuesday to the Holiday Inn near Auckland Airport. She was allowed to briefly return to her southeast Auckland home, accompanied by MIQ security, to tend to a pet and collect personal items, authorities said.

But after waiting outside the home for 10 minutes, security staff realised she had fled, authorities said.

Joint head of MIQ Brigadier Rose King said yesterday that she was disappointed by the incidents, which she said put the wider community at risk.

"These facilities are not prisons and these individuals have willfully absconded," she said.

"There are rules in place for every single returnee from overseas and now the positive community cases, and we expect people to follow these during their stay in managed isolation or quarantine."