A Whangārei man who forced his way through a fence into a Covid-19 isolation facility was wearing a white jumpsuit, gloves and a face mask when he made a court appearance by video yesterday.


Jesse Courtney Welsh, 33, painter of Morningside, appeared in Whangārei District Court via a video link from prison. He was wearing all the protective gear as he sat alone in a room at the prison.

He pleaded guilty to charges of failing to comply with a Covid-19 order and unlawfully being in an enclosed area at the Crowne Plaza on Albert St in Auckland about 12.20pm last Friday.

The charge of failing to comply with a Covid-19 order carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a $4000 fine.

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He also admitted charges unrelated to the event of careless driving and failing to stop on River Rd, Dargaville, on November 22 last year.

Welsh forced his way through a 1.8m fence into the Covid-19 managed facility and had a conversation with a person who had returned from overseas and was in isolation.

They were in the exercise area of the facility.

After the liaison Welsh managed to give police the slip and returned to Whangārei, 158km away, where he was arrested shortly after 10am on Saturday.

Lawyer John Day represented Welsh and said his client had returned a negative Covid-19 test, had been tested again on Tuesday but was awaiting the result and he would be tested again in seven days.

Day said he would usually want his clients in court for sentencing but given the circumstances, he accepted a video link would be appropriate.

Judge Keith de Ridder remanded Welsh in custody until Monday for sentencing and asked for a stand-down report to be completed.