Man left quarantine hotel because of tap water
A MAN who twice busted out of his Brisbane hotel room, while under a COVID-19 quarantine, after returning from Hawaii, has been fined $1500.
Jeremy Alexander Aitchison, 33, who was under a 14 days public health isolation direction, found the hotel room too small and claustrophobic, a court was told.
Aitchison, who has Asperger's syndrome, also was disturbed by noise from an air conditioner, his lawyer told Brisbane Magistrates Court.
She said he had been unable to drink the tap water, "because of his belief system", and bottled water he had requested had not been delivered.
Prosecutor Ben Michell said Aitchison had been taken to Rydges Hotel, South Brisbane, after flying into Brisbane from Hawaii early on Saturday morning.
Despite saying he understood the quarantine conditions, Aitchison "escaped" from his room, and was seen using a fire escape to get to a stairwell, the prosecutor said.
He was seen by police around 7am that morning on level two of the hotel, four floors away from his room, apparently trying to gain access to other rooms.
Aitchison, who told police he needed fresh air and sunlight to survive, was given a formal warning and returned to his room.
But at 11am Aitchison was again seen using the fire escape stairwell to get to level two - this time wearing only his underwear, the court heard.
Mr Michell said Aitchison told police he wasn't going to stay in his room, before locking himself in the room, denying police entry.
Just before 1pm on Saturday police forced their way into the room after Aitchison stopped responding.
Mr Michell said Aitchison's behaviour was selfish and reckless and it was only police who stopped him from leaving the building.
The defence solicitor told the court because of Aitchison's Asperger's syndrome and spiritual beliefs he was not satisfied with the accommodation.
She said Aitchison, who had just returned from an Hawaiian health retreat, had not been able to use his usual coping methods and he had only left his room to seek help.
The unemployed former Uber and bus driver spent three nights in the Brisbane Watchhouse and now has to spend another 14 days in quarantine.
Magistrate Robert Walker said Aitchison's behaviour was "reckless and irresponsible in the extreme".
He said complying with the Chief Health Officer's COVID-19 public health direction conditions was not difficult, although some hardship was involved for someone with his condition.
"We are all, as a community, dealing with a range of difficulties in these clearly extraordinary circumstances," Mr Walker said.
"There are imperatives of community safety that ought to be apparent to all of us"
He fined Aitchison $1500 but did not record a conviction, saying it could pose an impediment to him gaining employment.
Originally published as Man left quarantine hotel because of tap water 'beliefs'