11 Jul 2020

Man who fled Hamilton isolation hotel 'the nicest guy ever'

9:17 am on 11 July 2020

First published on Otago Daily Times

By Jared Morgan for the Otago Daily Times

A Queenstown woman says she warned the man who fled a Hamilton isolation hotel to visit a liquor store not to do it.

The Distinction Hotel in Te Rapa, Hamilton.

The Distinction Hotel in Te Rapa, Hamilton. Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

That man, Martin James McVicar, 52, has been remanded in custody after appearing before community magistrate Robyn Paterson in the Hamilton District Court yesterday. He was charged over a failure to comply with isolation requirements.

When spoken to by the Otago Daily Times, Cory McVicar said she was surprised by the news.

Although she would not disclose her relationship to Martin McVicar, it is understood she is his daughter.

"This is the first I have heard of it [the alleged incident]. He's the nicest guy ever; he wouldn't have done this intentionally."

She expressed some doubts about the facts of the case but said she had spoken to McVicar earlier in the week and "I told him not to do it".

McVicar was arrested after he allegedly cut through fence ties to break out of a managed isolation facility on Thursday. He allegedly absconded from the Distinction Hotel and went to a nearby liquor store, picking beer and wine before leaving.

The man has tested negative twice for Covid-19, first in a test taken on day three of his isolation period, and again yesterday.

McVicar also said it was unfair McVicar had been named.

"He's lived here for a long time. He's not some tourist, he has business here; this is going to be really very damaging.

"Queenstown is a small town and people don't need s*** about them in the paper."

She said conditions in the isolation hotel were tough.

"You don't understand what it is like. They are not allowed to leave their rooms, there are guards in the hallways.

"He wouldn't hurt anyone. This is a frustrating and stressful time for everyone."

McVicar faces one count of intentionally failing to comply with an order under the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 by leaving a managed isolation facility and buying alcohol.

He also faces an intentional damage charge relating to a 52-inch television belonging to the Distinction Hotel.

McVicar will reappear in court on 15 July.

- This story first appeared in the Otago Daily Times, with additional reporting by The New Zealand Herald.

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