23 September 2021

Woman with COVID-19 told infection isn't a good enough reason to get bail

| Albert McKnight
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Alexander Maconochie Centre

Jennifer Hanson had to prove there were special circumstances for her to be released from custody on bail. Photo: File.

A COVID-19-positive woman has been told that having the virus is not a good enough reason to be granted bail.

Jennifer Hanson, 27, appeared over phone in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday (23 September), charged with conspiring to commit an aggravated robbery on 26 August 2021. Her Aboriginal Legal Service lawyer Lauren Skinner said she would plead not guilty.

As she had pleaded guilty to a separate charge, she had to prove there were special circumstances for her to be released from custody on bail.

Ms Skinner said her client had tested positive for coronavirus while in police custody and argued that having the virus was a special circumstance.

She said if Hanson was taken into the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC), there was the possibility that she could spread the virus to inmates and staff, as opposed to the more minimal risk of exposure to her housemates if she quarantined in her home.

READ ALSO Pensioner allegedly leaves isolation after testing positive for COVID-19

Ms Skinner said she would be “extraordinarily isolated” if she was taken to the jail because of her diagnosis.

She noted a significant difference between being isolated at home and being isolated in a cell in the AMC.

But prosecutor Sam Bargwanna said the AMC was equipped to deal with COVID-positive patients, and the risk of transmission was far less there than in the community.

“She would just as easily spread the COVID virus to others in the community,” he said.

“Being isolated in these times is something many of us expect.”

READ ALSO Queenslander found hiding in Airbnb closet charged with breaching COVID lockdown

Magistrate James Lawton sided with the prosecution, saying the AMC was taking particular care with people identified as being at risk of having the coronavirus.

Hanson, from Moncrieff, was remanded in custody for her matter to be heard again on 4 November.

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