The Spanish national at the centre of a South Australian police investigation into his failure to disclose to contact tracers he worked shifts at the Woodville Pizza Bar has said he is “extremely remorseful” for the lockdown in the state, but said some of the information circulating about his actions was “not fair, accurate or complete”.
The solicitor acting for the 36-year-old man released a statement on Tuesday that he is “extremely remorseful and deeply sorry for any part his conduct played in any unnecessary lockdown actions.
“He did not foresee or intend that things might unfold as they have.”
The man, who also worked in the kitchen at the Stamford medi-hotel, initially told contact tracers he had just picked up a pizza from the Woodville Pizza Bar when he contracted Covid-19. This information led South Australian authorities to believe there could be much more widespread community transmission in the state and sent South Australia into a six-day lockdown.
The lockdown came to an end three days early when investigators determined the man had worked shifts in the bar alongside another man who also worked as a security guard at the Peppers Hotel where the Parafield outbreak originated.
As Guardian Australia reported on Monday, the 36-year-old man has limited access to information while in quarantine because police seized his devices as part of the investigation. While he was not across the full extent of government media releases, public opinion and social media, Scott Jelbert, principal at Camena, said in the statement today that some of the information being alleged about his client’s actions is “not fair, accurate or complete notwithstanding the state government’s comments”.
He said the man “is concerned he has been all but publicly named”.
In the past week, state authorities have released the man’s age, visa status and nationality, in addition to stating where he had worked. His solicitor said the man was focused on “cooperating with the authorities and completing quarantine”.
“He is sincerely concerned about the impact of the lockdown on South Australians,” he said.
“My client has not been charged with any breach of the law but in the circumstances, including that such charges may emerge, no further comment about those matters is appropriate at this time.”
The 40-odd officers involved in the police taskforce established to investigate the matter are reviewing over 400 hours of CCTV footage from Pepper’s Hotel.
Two people associated with the Woodville Pizza Bar, who are also in quarantine, have also been drawn into the investigation. Assistant commissioner Peter Harvey would not state on Monday what potential crimes – if any – were being investigated.
“It may be nothing – that’s why we’re looking, that’s the whole purpose of an investigation,” he said.
“There’s a lot of emotion and a lot of desire for something to be done, but it will be done carefully, it will be done clinically.
“And we’ll put our case forward – there may not be a case. Just the same, there may well be. That’s the point of the investigation.”
South Australia reported one new case of Covid-19 on Tuesday – a man in his 20s linked to a medi-hotel staff member in the Parafield cluster. The man was already in isolation.