Pullman Hotel escaper appears in court; bailed to live with family

Anna Leask, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 13 Jul 2020, 12:55PM
Suzanne Derrett has been charged with escaping from the Pullman hotel during managed isolation. Photo /supplied
Suzanne Derrett has been charged with escaping from the Pullman hotel during managed isolation. Photo /supplied

Pullman Hotel escaper appears in court; bailed to live with family

Anna Leask, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 13 Jul 2020, 12:55PM

A woman who scaled two fences to escape from a managed isolation facility has appeared in court this morning.

Suzanne Marie Derrett, 43, arrived from Brisbane on June 27 and returned a negative Covid-19 test three days later.

She was the first of four people last week to escape from a managed isolation facility.

On Saturday, July 4 she allegedly absconded from the Pullman Hotel on foot shortly before 6.20pm.

She was located soon after a couple of blocks away at 8pm on Anzac Ave.

Derrett appeared before Judge Christopher Field this morning in the Auckland District Court.

She is facing one charge of failing to comply with a Covid-19 order.

After applying for legal aid, and spending much of the morning waiting to be assigned a lawyer, Derrett's case was finally called after midday.

She sat in the back of court - wearing dark sunglasses - supported by her brother.

The court heard Derrett had finished her isolation period and been tested twice for Covid-19 with both tests returning negative results.

"She was absent for a very brief time ... on day seven," her lawyer said.

A medical report was presented to the court outlining mental health issues relating to Derrett.

She wanted to return to Dunedin with her brother, who had travelled to Auckland for the appearance.

Her lawyer opposed media applications to photograph Derrett in court and sought a remand on bail without plea.

Derrett has been on bail since her arrest with no issues.

Judge Field refused the media applications and remanded Derrett without plea for two weeks. She was granted bail to live at her brother's house in Dunedin.

She will return to court on July 27 at 10am and media applications will be revisited.

Judge Field allowed her to travel to Dunedin but said she must appear back in the Auckland District Court later this month.

Derrett was snuck out a back door at court, avoiding the main and only public entrance and the waiting media.

She declined to comment when approached.

Meanwhile, the Herald has also learned that on April 20 Derrett was reported missing in Queensland.

Police there had appealed to the public for sightings of the 43-year-old after she was last seen leaving a health facility in Nambour on the Sunshine Coast, about 104km north of Brisbane.

They said she may have been travelling in a black 2014 Mitsubishi Triton dual cab and released photographs of both the vehicle and the missing woman.

"Police hold concerns for Suzanne's safety as her behaviour is out of character," they said at the time.

It is unclear if police in Queensland located Derrett before she left Australia to come to Auckland.

The five police officers who came into contact with Derrett while capturing her had to undergo Covid-19 testing and go into self-isolation for two weeks.

Derrett was the first of a handful of people to try to escape from their managed isolation facilities.

Every person who arrives in New Zealand must be isolated from other people for a minimum period of 14 days.

They must also test negative for Covid-19 before they can go into the community.

This 14-day period forms a critical part of the actions being taken to keep New Zealand and New Zealanders safe during a global pandemic when case numbers are constantly increasing overseas.

On Thursday the Herald spoke to another person who will face charges over escaping from the Stamford Plaza hotel in Auckland.

The man arrived from India on July 3 and, as are the rules, went straight into managed isolation at the Stamford Plaza Hotel.

On Tuesday evening he left the hotel without permission, slipping through a gap in the fencing and evading security staff.

He was away for 70 minutes.

Police have established that he spent about 20 minutes at the Countdown in Victoria Street West.

The man will receive a summons to appear in court when he is cleared from quarantine.

A charge is yet to be filed in the District Court.

On Thursday night another man allegedly cut through fence ties in a 1.8 metre fence to break out of a managed isolation facility in Hamilton.

He went to a liquor store.

Head of managed isolation and quarantine Air Commodore Darryn Webb said last week that 27,723 people had gone through managed isolation since March 26.

Of those, the "vast majority" were adhering to the rules and taking their responsibilities seriously.

"We take any breach of the Covid-19 rules very seriously. Wilfully leaving our facilities will not be tolerated, and the appropriate action will be taken," Webb said.

"As we have said repeatedly - actions such as these are completely unacceptable. Returnees are given clear instructions and information about what their responsibilities are.

"Managed isolation is a critical part in our defence against Covid-19, and it is up to each and every person entering this country to play their part and abide by the law."