Lawyer for alleged Perth quarantine breacher takes aim at handling of international arrivals

Lawyer for alleged Perth quarantine breacher takes aim at handling of international arrivals

Ms Teffaha said Ms D’Ubios was prepared to quarantine after returning to Perth from Madrid, via Doha, but struggled with the condition of her hotel room.

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Ms Teffaha told 6PR her client had “quite intense” allergies which were “deeply exacerbated” during her stay.

Ms D’Ubios was taken to Royal Perth Hospital twice, but in a press conference on Sunday, WA Deputy Chief Health Officer Robyn Lawrence said there was nothing to alert authorities that the woman couldn’t be managed in hotel quarantine, “the same as 20,000 other arrivals”.

However, Ms Teffaha said her client was reaching “breakdown point” as a result of her symptoms, and instead of handling them appropriately, the “hand of law” dealt with Ms D’Ubios “in a very reactive and dramatic sense”.

“To me, what should have occurred immediately is a reconsideration of her room, of whether she had a balcony, problems with the lack of ventilation in hotels, this is a very common issue and a very common problem for my clients … [Ms D’Ubios] was very visibly experiencing those symptoms,” she said.

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In a statement to 6PR, Pan Pacific general manager Rob Weeden said rooms were cleaned for guests’ arrival and there were extra hygiene protocols in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Weeden said quarantine guest rooms were not serviced daily – for obvious reasons – but guests were provided cleaning products for their stay.

He said there was no mould in Ms D’Ubios’ room, the air-conditioning provided 98 per cent fresh air, and the dust was “as one would expect after a week’s stay and no cleaning”.

Ms D’Ubios is now in Bandyup Women’s Prison, next due to face court on January 4 over a charge of failing to comply with a direction. She faces a fine of up to $50,000 or 12 months imprisonment.

Ms Teffaha said she didn’t know exactly how Ms D’Ubios was alleged to have escaped the hotel, but spoke to her while she was out in Perth, as well as police, and hoped the situation would be calmed by Ms D’Ubios going to hospital.

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“When I had a discussion with my client after speaking to the police I had hope that by her presenting to a hospital that things would de-escalate and not escalate,” she said.

At Sunday’s press conference, it emerged a security guard had followed Ms D’Ubios out of the hotel but lost sight of her before police arrived.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook conceded “there was a small window between the woman leaving the hotel and police arriving”, while WA Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Steel said officers rushed to the hotel and got there “within 5 minutes”.

Police continued to search for Ms D’Ubios throughout Saturday, before putting out a call for public help about 7pm, nine hours after she left the hotel.

Ms Teffaha said the reaction from WA Police and the state government had been “obnoxious”.

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She said police were “criminalising and coming after people in a way that is completely disproportionate”, and magistrates and judges needed to be “more open-minded” when overseeing quarantine breach cases.

“This is an issue in the medical sphere, not in the criminal sphere,” Ms Teffaha said.

She said international arrivals to Australia were immediately “being treated as suspect COVID”, which led to a “lack of empathy” and an “over-policing model” evident across Australia.

On Sunday, Mr Cook made no apologies for the actions the government and police took to manage returning travellers.

“Any small crack in fortress Western Australia is not good enough,” he said.

But on the subject of Saturday’s breach, he was blunt: “It is the individual in this particular circumstance who chose to break quarantine, and she has to take responsibility for her actions.”

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