A man has copped a whopping fine for fleeing Bulli Hospital in frustration just hours before he would have completed his two-week quarantine period there.
Brady Regent was agitated by a missing Uber Eats order and the "very tiny", airless room he'd been confined to when he stepped out into the hospital corridor with his bags packed about 1.15pm on Sunday, Wollongong Local Court has heard.
His exit came almost 14 days after he tested positive to the virus, less than 11 hours before he was supposed to be released from isolation.
He was convicted and fined $5000 in Wollongong Local Court on Monday. The court heard this was in addition to a $5000 fine he was going to be issued by police, for breaching quarantine in a separate incident at the hospital two days earlier.
The court heard the 23-year-old had returned to his Nowra home earlier this month after spending time in a health facility in the Newcastle area.
Once home, health authorities told him he had been a close contact to an outbreak at the facility.
He went for testing as instructed and was taken by ambulance from Nowra to Bulli Hospital when this returned a positive result.
On Monday defence lawyer Greg Melrose told the court Regent had grown frustrated in confinement.
"He just says he got frustrated because he'd been in a very tiny room, the rooms are extremely small, with no fresh air and limited opportunity to move around. He and his partner were in this tiny room for 14 days," he said.
"Of course it's no excuse for what he did, he accepts that.
"He was in fact due to be discharged from hospital last night at midnight - he was about to be discharged when this incident happened.
"As far as [NSW] Health is concerned he has [now] finished his isolation period and can just go home at this point."
Regent pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to comply with a self-isolation direction.
According to tendered police facts, he and his partner placed an order with Uber Eats about 11am on Sunday and Regent confronted hospital staff when the food failed to arrive.
Security staff soon afterwards followed him from his room and into a courtyard area, where he threw his bags over a fence. Staff were able to calm him before he climbed free. He was seated, smoking a cigarette when police arrived.
Regent, who was on bail and a community corrections order for unrelated matters, faced a maximum penalty of six months' imprisonment for attempting to grant himself the slight early mark.
Magistrate Gabriel Fleming noted Regent's offending came within hours of his intended release from isolation. She said he may be able to perform community service to pay off some of the $5000 fine.
"That's a lot of money but it's really important for the court to send a really strong message to the community that the results of you breaching this public health order could be devastating - they could be devastating for someone else who gets COVID."
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District announced earlier this month that part of the new Bulli Hospital building had been set aside as a Special Health Accommodation for COVID-19 patients.