COVID-19: Alleged absconder from Auckland managed isolation facility pleads not guilty

The man who allegedly absconded from an Auckland managed isolation facility to visit an inner-city supermarket has pleaded not guilty.

Davinder Singh, 32, pleaded not guilty to a charge of failing to comply with the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act. He did not attend court on Tuesday and is next scheduled to appear on October 7. 

The 32-year-old tested positive for COVID-19 after allegedly absconding from Auckland's Stamford Plaza Hotel on the evening of July 7. 

Singh, who returned to New Zealand from New Delhi, India, has been accused of escaping through a fenced area of the hotel for a 70-minute excursion in Auckland CBD.

During that time the 32-year-old allegedly visited Countdown supermarket on Victoria Street West and purchased items at a self-service checkout. He returned his positive result the following day.

Despite claims that the supermarket had been closed in light of Singh's alleged shopping trip, Newshub national correspondent Patrick Gower visited the store the following morning and purchased items using a self-service kiosk. Gower got tested for the virus and self-isolated as a precautionary measure. He returned a negative result.

Breaching the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act by failing to remain in quarantine for the required period carries a maximum penalty of six months behind bars, or a $4000 fine. 

After appearing at Auckland District Court on August 11, Singh was remanded on bail without plea.