Hotel manager sacked after sneaky night with COVID guest
A senior hotel manager in Brisbane has lost her job and been fined thousands after she circumvented police security to stay the night with a friend in quarantine at her workplace.
Former Rydges South Bank food and beverage manager Kimberley Jane Gilberd Cowper, 37, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a COVID-19 direction - emergency officer.
The court heard Cowper organised for a friend, who was returning from Sydney, to quarantine at Rydges on October 9.
Police prosecutor Tara Williams said an internal investigation showed CCTV footage of Cowper entering the friend's room about 6pm and leaving about 9am.
Cowper was not on duty that day but managed to "circumvent police security established in the front house of the hotel" to access the room.
Detectives from Taskforce Sierra Linnet interviewed Cowper who acknowledged being aware she was not to enter hotel rooms of quarantine patrons.
The friend was also charged over the matter but is yet to face court.
Cowper's Legal Aid lawyer Elliot Boddice said his client had no criminal history and was "deeply regretful".
"I concede at the outset that it is a serious example given her position of authority," he said.
"It was a stupid decision … she accepts that wholly, it's a decision she regrets.
"She described it as very irresponsible and a stupid mistake."
The court heard the duo met six months ago and had stayed in touch.
"She instructed that she was excited to see her co-defendant who is a friend, it was a decision that she deeply regrets," he said.
Mr Boddice said she had resigned from her position last week after being given an ultimatum by the hotel.
He said she faced the added embarrassment of having to face court rather than getting an infringement notice.
"She appears before the court with no criminal history whatsoever. I think the court can properly treat this as an aberration," he said.
Magistrates Belinda Merrin said Cowper's guilty plea at the earliest opportunity, police co-operation and remorse were mitigating factors.
"You have lost your job as a result of the offence but as I said, it was your job that allowed you to commit this particular offence," she said.
"All of this can just be put down to an aberration, you made a really stupid mistake in doing what you did.
"But general deterrence has to be important in these sorts of matters too."
Ms Merrin said she was not sure why Cowper had to face court rather than receive an infringement.
Cowper was fined $4003 and did not have a conviction recorded.