Brisbane Novotel quarantine suicide: Hotel guest heard screams before QLD Health had to bang on door


A hotel quarantine guest heard a man screaming as he was forced into mandatory isolation – two days before he killed himself in his room.

The woman, who is also staying at Novotel Brisbane Airport, claims the middle aged man ‘screamed for about half an hour’ as he was forced into two-weeks quarantine.

Two days later, a separate guest who was a week into her stay heard welfare officers banging on the door of the room next to hers, demanding the person open up.   

‘I could hear them calling ”sir, it’s Queensland Health, you need to open up”,’ and receiving no response from the guest, the woman said on Wednesday.

It wasn’t until she saw media reports revealing a 53-year-old aeronautical engineer from Brisbane’s northern suburbs had ended his life in the bathroom of his own hotel room that she realised what she had listened to. 

The man was on just his second day of mandatory quarantine after travelling to Canberra to visit relatives.

Initially, the woman claims the officers didn’t appear particularly concerned when he failed to answer the door and agreed among themselves to return 15 minutes later.

Within 30 minutes, the woman claims she heard more voices and soon after, she watched an ambulance pull into the complex from her window.

The 53-year-old aeronautical engineer from Brisbane’s northern suburbs was found unresponsive in the bathroom of his room at Novotel (pictured) near the airport about 5pm on Monday 

A hotel quarantine guest heard Queensland Health officers banging on the door of a man who killed himself moments before discovering he was dead

A hotel quarantine guest heard Queensland Health officers banging on the door of a man who killed himself moments before discovering he was dead

‘When I put my rubbish bag outside about 7pm there was a security guard sitting outside the door of the room and at 7.30pm when I collected dinner police were also [there],’ she said.

The door to the room was taped up, the woman said.

The man, who has not been publicly identified, had reportedly told his wife he would try to seek an exemption from mandatory hotel quarantine, but it is not yet clear if he went through the process.  

His wife told The Courier Mail he suffered serious depression and was particularly distressed after his twin brother died of cancer in 2020.

The man’s mother was also diagnosed with the disease. 

The guest who initially saw a man screaming said she called reception staff twice in the hours to follow to express her concerns about his health, and is now calling for an investigation into the handling of her complaint. 

‘He screamed for at least half an hour and I knew he wasn’t going to do well,’ the woman said.

A second guest at the quarantine facility said just days before the man's death, she witnessed a distressing scene involving a middle-aged male guest

A second guest at the quarantine facility said just days before the man’s death, she witnessed a distressing scene involving a middle-aged male guest

Given his history of mental health issues, the man’s wife believes the prospect of being isolated for two weeks in a hotel room may have ‘pushed him over the edge’.

‘We didn’t expect this to happen – it’s a shock,’ she said. ‘I don’t understand why we can’t do something different for people with major depression who may be at risk of suicide.

‘I believe if my husband had been in home quarantine, he’d still be alive – that’s my strong belief. There must be options. There must be other ways.’ 

The woman said she understood the need for quarantine to prevent a viral outbreak in largely Covid-free Queensland, but called on the government to show compassion and consider cases on an individual basis.

‘People who are depressed shouldn’t be put in hotel quarantine. In my mind that was a factor that may have pushed him over the edge,’ she said.

The new widow is now seeking answers as to whether her husband had applied for an exemption from hotel quarantine. 

Within 30 minutes, the woman claims she heard more voices and soon after, she watched an ambulance pull into the complex from her window. Pictured: Ambulance arriving at a quarantine hotel

Within 30 minutes, the woman claims she heard more voices and soon after, she watched an ambulance pull into the complex from her window. Pictured: Ambulance arriving at a quarantine hotel

Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner Shane Chelepy confirmed on Tuesday that the man had died inside the state-run facility.  

‘I’m not able to go into any more detail at the moment but what I will say is that the matter is under investigation by police, and it will be referred to the coroner following that investigation,’ he said.

‘I just would like to acknowledge the response of the police and our health staff and other agencies in hotel staff that are working at the hotels, their response to that tragic matter.’

The tragedy came as the Queensland recorded six new Covid cases on Thursday, taking the state’s tally to 11 this week alone. 

Four cases are linked to the aviation cluster announced earlier this week.

‘It looks like we think the event where all these people were exposed and got infected happened on 20 September,’ chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said.

One of the other cases was identified in a pilot who had flown into Townsville, sparking concerns the NRL grand final this weekend will be thrown into chaos if cases continue to spread in south east Queensland as well.

If this has raised issues with you, contact Lifeline on 131 114

Pictured: A woman in PPE at a quarantine hotel in Brisbane. The man's wife believes the prospect of being isolated for two weeks in a hotel room may have 'pushed him over the edge'

Pictured: A woman in PPE at a quarantine hotel in Brisbane. The man’s wife believes the prospect of being isolated for two weeks in a hotel room may have ‘pushed him over the edge’

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