29 Jul 2020

Family members who escaped isolation plead guilty

6:44 pm on 29 July 2020

Four members of a family who absconded from a Covid-19 isolation hotel in Hamilton have all pleaded guilty in the Hamilton Youth Court.

The Distinction Hotel in Te Rapa, Hamilton.

The family escaped from isolation at the Distinction Hotel in Hamilton. Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

The group had arrived in New Zealand from Brisbane on 21 July for the funeral of a relative and were in isolation at the Distinction Hotel in Hamilton.

They escaped on Friday 24 July by climbing over a wall at the hotel in Te Rapa.

A 37-year-old woman and three of her children were found a short-time later.

The woman will be sentenced later next month.

An 18-year-old girl is seeking a discharge without conviction and will appear in the Auckland District Court next month.

A 17-year-old boy and his 16-year-old brother will appear in the Auckland Youth Court next month for a family group conference.

A 12-year-old girl was not charged.

All names have been suppressed.

The four, all wearing masks appeared in court via an audio visual link from an Auckland isolation hotel.

Another 17-year-old boy who was able to get to Auckland later turned himself in.

Judge Noel Cocurullo refused to let the Leader of the NZ Public Party attend the hearing.

Billy Te Kahika requested permission to attend on the grounds of a whakapapa link, but admitted to the Judge that he had personally never met the whānau.

He had been publicly critical of the Covid-19 response and the refusal to allow the family an exemption to attend the funeral of a family member.

Judge Cocurullo refused Te Kahika's request saying he had a political agenda, which was inappropriate in court.

"There is a predominance in his appearance today of the stand point that it is a political media release that he has issued and we are currently in an election cycle of which of course I make no comment upon."

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