A gay Auckland man has come forward to tell his story of a hotel room invasion that left him scarred for life.
Barry Bloomfield says he has struggled with Auckland’s Portage Licensing Trust since July 2007 over a hotel room invasion that resulted in a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnosis.
After years of attempting to have his complaint taken seriously, Baz (as he is known) has come forward in the hope that no one else has to suffer through what he has.
According to Baz, on the night of 28 July 2007, he and his then-partner Rodel checked into the Peninsula Hotel in Auckland. After being shown to their room, Baz says the registration clerk said “bloody queers” to the pair whilst walking away.
Then at 1.30am, Baz says the night porter/manager entered their room without warning or invitation.
“He had entered the room by using a master key and turned the lights on,” says Baz. “I was disorientated from the lights being turned on but I screamed at the intruder to leave the room.
Baz says the intruder said, “So it’s right, then. You are queers.”
“I scrambled for the sheets and tried to protect myself and Rodel. I feared for my life and the life of my partner because I thought the intruder had a gun in his hand and that he was going to shoot us. The intruder refused to leave when I screamed at him the first time, and he was asked to leave the room five or six times after that. He showed no looks of embarrassment. Instead he sneered at us and stared at us.
“I continued to yell at the intruder to leave. However, when the intruder decided to leave the room, he laughed before closing the door. It was totally humiliating.”
The next day, Baz approached The Peninsula Hotel staff to find answers as to why there had been an intruder in their room in the middle of the night. The receptionist refused to give him a refund even though Baz had not asked for one. When the intruder from the night before offered to pay for the room, the receptionist told the intruder not to pay for it. When Baz said he would write a letter of complaint, the intruder said, “Well, you do what you like!”
Since the incident, Baz says he has has been embroiled in a battle with the hotel owners, the Portage Licensing Trust. The then CEO and general manager of operations responded to his complaints by belittling Baz’s claims.
“The recurring nightmares, flashbacks and being sleep deprived lead me to experience severe stress and depression. I had thoughts of suicide and eventually tried to take my own life.” Baz says his mental health deteriorated to the point where he was diagnosed with PTSD.
“I engaged the service of a lawyer who wrote numbers of letters to the trust,” he says. “After approximately six months, my health deteriorated to a point where I was unable to chase the matter further. I was suffering from severe depression I just lost the plot.”
Baz says his mental health deteriorated to the point where he was diagnosed with PTSD and took a large amount of time off work due to nausea and stress. Baz also lost his job as principal of a primary school after poor decision-making led to him pleading guilty to two charges of using a document for a pecuniary advantage and two counts of theft relating to the sale of a school fence on Trade Me.
Baz later made a complaint to the Human Rights Commission with a number of claims that related to him and the school. The years-long case was settled out of court, the details of which cannot be disclosed.
Baz says, “I am more than happy with the outcome from the Human Rights Commission.”
“Recently, and five years after the hotel room invasion I was in Avondale shopping and looked across the road to see the intruder from the hotel. The thoughts of the teriffying events at the hotel came flooding back to me and I was re-traumatised. I ended up going back to community mental health services.”
Baz says he wants some resolution other than what has been offered by the Portage Licensing Trust.
“The only thing I’ve been offered to this day is a free night’s stay in another one of Portage Licensing Trust’s hotels. Why would I want to stay there again?”
Simon Wickman, CEO of The Trusts, says, “The previous chief executive exchanged a number of phone calls and letters with Mr Bloomfield over this time, which prompted the trust to perform an investigation with the employees concerned.
“The employee denies that those events actually happened. The employee made a genuine error in response to another guest’s need and simply got the room wrong. The trust did apologise to Barry at the time and the employee did offer to refund his cost of stay, admitting that it was an interruption to what should have been a pleasant stay for the both of them.“
No further compensation has been sent to Mr Bloomfield at this stage. Wickman says, “There has been an exchange of correspondence between lawyers for both parties”.
“We absolutely welcome people from the gay community to stay at our hotels, just as we welcome anyone. We have a number of bars, restaurants, hotels and the like where I’m sure many in the community have found our staff to be welcoming and hospitable.
“I’d be upset if anyone accused the Portage Licensing Trust of showing any prejudice or lack of favour to any part of the community.”