Man fined £7,000 for leaving quarantine hotel room to smoke

·3-min read
(File photo)  (PA Archive)
(File photo) (PA Archive)

A man who repeatedly left his quarantine hotel room to smoke a cigarette when his wife had tested positive for Covid-19 has been fined £7,000.

Umer Draz, 31, was ordered to isolate in a room at the Leonardo Hotel near Heathrow Airport with his wife and children after they flew into the UK from Pakistan.

But police were called on April 23 last year by hotel staff, who accused him of refusing to stay in the room so that he could go outside and smoke.

PC Danielle Scott told Westminster magistrates court she confronted Draz, from Slough, at the hotel room door about his behaviour.

“I explained over at least a 20-minute period of how important it was to self-isolate and how he was putting everyone at risk by leaving the room to smoke and entertain his young children,” she said.

“Umer Draz and his wife were more interested about getting a larger room for their family, which I did try to accommodate but the hotel was full at the time and staff couldn’t provide this at their request.

“I explained multiple times how everyone needed to play their part.”

The court heard the family had arrived at the designated quarantine hotel on April 19, and Draz’s wife had tested positive for the virus two days later.

The Met Police said Draz, from Slough, knew the rules about leaving his room and complained that hotel staff were refusing to accompany him on a smoking break due to his wife’s positive test result.

He did not enter a plea and was convicted of a breach of the Covid travel rules, at a time when Pakistan was on the UK’s ‘red’ list. He was issued with a fine of £7,000 plus £290 in costs and fees at a behind-closed-doors court hearing on January 5.

In a separate prosecution, Serena Webb, 34, was also fined £7,000 for leaving her quarantine hotel within two hours of arrival.

PC Peter Beesley said Webb checked into the Kings Cross Crowne Plaza hotel after flying into the UK from Turkey on August 9, 2021, when that country was also on the ‘red’ list.

Two days later, officers went to her home in Colliers Wood, southwest London, and spoke to her through a window.

Webb and her children, aged two and five, were escorted back to the hotel when she was told she would be prosecuted.

The court heard Webb had expressed concern at the hotel “regarding the amount of food choices, being allowed out of their room by some staff and not others, not having a bowl to warm milk for the children and finding some of the security intimidating”.

A third defendant, Mark Freeman, 39, from Liverpool, was fined £6,000 for leaving his quarantine hotel within hours of arriving into the UK on a flight from Dubai on March 31, 2021.

All three defendants are prosecuted through the Single Justice Procedure, in behind-closed-doors hearings at Westminster magistrates court among scores of other Covid-19 offences.