A court has heard of bedlam at a Wollongong homeless refuge, after the complex - home to some of the city's most desperate - was placed in sudden quarantine, with no one allowed in or out.
From Thursday night, the Wollongong Homeless Hub complex on Keira St was encircled by five guards from private firm Insight Security and patrolling police, with a sectioned-off "clean zone" set up at the entryway to show where residents weren't allowed beyond for the next two weeks.
Details of the arrangements were aired in Wollongong Local Court on Monday after a resident was charged with breaching COVID-related rules and using offensive language.
Fiona Delauney departed the address in the back of a caged police car about midnight Sunday, after unleashing an hours-long "tirade of profanities" that prompted multiple residents to leave lockdown to complain.
At the culmination of her outburst, Delaney left her unit to "demand" a loaf of bread from an attending security guard, then removed her mask to spit in his direction.
NSW Health and Wollongong police made the decision to lockdown and secure the complex after a large number of residents were identified as confirmed cases or - like Delauney - high-risk close contacts.
In court on Monday, Delauney pleaded guilty to charges of not complying with a COVID-related noticed direction, and using offensive language in public.
The court heard she became a temporary resident of Keira St about four weeks ago, after years of homelessness.
From about 8.45pm Sunday she was heard yelling profanities - "you f---ing dog c---s" , "f--- your vaccinations" and "sl--" - in between bouts of silence lasting up to 30 minutes. .
According to a police account, her outbursts sparked ongoing disruption and more yelling - "shut up" - from other residents.
"A number of residents ... out of frustration [were] exiting isolation to complain to police/security regarding the accused person's behaviour," police said.
Delauney left her unit about 11.20pm to approach a security guard at the "clean zone" blockade, allegedly telling him, "give me the f---ing loaf of bread".
The guard retrieved a loaf of bread and asked Delauney to step back from the bannister so he could safely leave it for her.
She collected the bread, only to throw it on the ground, and resume yelling. With multiple police looking on, she removed her face mask to spit in the guard's direction.
In court on Monday, a repentant Delauney told Magistrate Claire Girotto she had "lost control" as a result of her confinement.
'I was hungry at 11.30 - I just got so hungry," she said.
"I must have just not even been thinking. I just wasn't thinking.
She told the court there was "a lot going on" at the complex "before I went off".
"Women were yelling out, 'I'm going to put a screwdriver in your neck you f---ing ...'," she said.
"I've never been more ashamed of myself sitting here ... they'll probably kick me out now and I'll be on the streets. It cost me a lot more than I thought."
Defence lawyer Greg Melrose told the court Delauney had previously tried to stay in her room as much as possible to avoid contact with COVID-positive neighbours.
"Tensions are running high in the Homeless Hub," he said.
Delauney was convicted and placed on a 12-month conditional release order.