British Virgin Islands

Saturday, Jan 16, 2021

US teen given 4 mths in prison for breaking quarantine in Cayman Islands

US teen given 4 mths in prison for breaking quarantine in Cayman Islands

An American teenager and her boyfriend from the Cayman Islands have been sentenced to four months in prison for flouting the Caribbean nation's strict Covid-19 quarantine requirement.

Skylar Mack, 18, a student from Loganville, Georgia, and Vanjae Ramgeet, 24, a professional jet-ski racer from the Cayman Islands, received the sentence on Tuesday morning, December 15, 2020, after the country’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Patrick Moran, decided to appeal their original sentence of a $2,600 fine and 40 hours of community service each, People.com reported on December 16, 2020.


Skylar Mack, 18, left, a student from Loganville, Georgia, and Vanjae Ramgeet, 24, right, a professional jet-ski racer from the Cayman Islands, received the sentence on Tuesday morning, December 15, 2020.

Teen removed geo-fencing bracelet


According to the office of the DPP, Mack arrived in the Cayman Islands on November 27, 2020, and was required to undergo a minimum 14-day quarantine-in-residence, per Caymanian Covid suppression guidelines. On November 29, 2020, Mack instead left her residence and removed her geo-fencing bracelet, which tracks her location, in order to watch Ramgeet compete in a jet ski event.

Both individuals are said to have interacted with members of the public at the event for more than seven hours without social distancing or wearing masks.

Mack, whose father is also a professional watercraft racer in the US, was detained by police at the scene. Both she and Ramgeet — who was charged with aiding and abetting his girlfriend — were placed in a government quarantine facility for a 14-day quarantine, which ended on December 15, 2020.


Anyone wishing to enter the Cayman Islands is required to quarantine in an approved facility, or at a residence using monitoring technology . . . Breaches of quarantine may result in prosecution and penalties of up to $10,000 KYD [approximately $12,195 USD] and two years’ imprisonment.

Guilty


Mack and Ramgeet both pled guilty to their offences.

“Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in early 2020, the Cayman Islands Government has prioritized the safety of its residents and their protection from the global COVID-19 pandemic. To accomplish this goal the Government employed stringent isolation and social distancing policies,” the Cayman Islands Government told ‘People’ in a statement.

“Anyone wishing to enter the islands is required to quarantine in an approved facility, or at residence using monitoring technology . . . Breaches of quarantine may result in prosecution and penalties of up to $10,000 KYD [approximately $12,195 USD] and two years’ imprisonment,” the statement said.

Original sentenced appealed


According to local news outlet the Cayman Compass, Moran decided to appeal the couple’s original sentencing of a fine and community service because he did not think the sentence fit the crime.

“These offenses should have been met with far more stringent measures,” Moran said while appearing before the Grand Court on December 14, 2020. “When it comes to a matter of deterrence, the sentences imposed are likely to have little to no effect on other like-minded individuals.”

“There is nothing exceptional about either defendant that should have warranted the sentence imposed by the lower court,” Moran said.


Minister for Health and Social Development in the [British] Virgin Islands, Hon Carvin Malone (AL) said on December 15, 2020, that two persons who violated COVID-19 quarantine and tested positive for the virus are being questioned by the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) and could face charges for the infraction.

Sentence too ‘harsh’- Guilty duo’s attorney


Attorney Jonathan Hughes, who is representing both Mack and Ramgeet, told the court that he believes the new sentence is too harsh, and that both have already paid a significant price for their actions, according to the Compass.

“There is no way that it can be right that a custodial sentence is imposed for a first-time offense on an 18-year-old defendant, who entered an early guilty plea,” said Hughes, noting that he believes his clients’ mistakes were due to “youthful ignorance and selfishness.”

“Ms Mack has paid her fine in full from her savings, which resulted in a significant portion of her funds being depleted,” he continued. “She has received hate mail, so far as to say even death threats. This has even impacted her father, who is also a professional jet-ski rider and has now lost sponsorship because of it.”

Ramgeet was stripped of his victory at the jet-ski event, and was made to return his prize money and trophy. He was also required to write a formal apology to the Cayman Islands Watercraft Association, and will not be allowed to compete in the first few races of 2021.

‘I made a mistake’- American teen


In a letter sent via Hughes to the Compass on December 13, Mack wrote: “I am aware that the Cayman Islands Government has done nothing but dedicate extreme caution to combat the spread of COVID-19, for this the country and its citizens can be extremely proud; I made a mistake, and words cannot express how sorry I am for this… I was afforded the opportunity to enter the islands during these trying times and I abused it. I am humbly asking for the forgiveness of the community.”

In his own letter, Ramgeet shared, “I should have known better than to put our community at risk as I did. I made a decision without thinking about the long-term effects it would have on our community; words cannot express how truly sorry I am for the anxiety, frustration, and inconvenience that you all have experienced.”


Skylar Mack, an 18-year-old college student from Georgia, has been sentenced to four months in prison after breaking Covid-19 protocol in the Cayman Islands.

Stiff penalties announced in VI


Meanwhile, in the [British] Virgin Islands, Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon Carvin Malone (AL) said on December 15, 2020, that two persons who violated COVID-19 quarantine and tested positive for the virus are being questioned by the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) and could face charges for the infraction.

The breaches had caused Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) to advocate for a $20,000 increase in fines for persons who break COVID-19 quarantine in the VI.

“I want to say this very blunt, that’s irresponsible, it’s disrespectful to the people of the territory… I tell persons all the time that everyone wants the BVI to be the Burger King, where you could have it your way,” Premier Fahie had said at the Second Sitting of the Third Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) on Monday, December 14, 2020.

On December 17, 2020, the Cabinet of the Virgin Islands announced a barrage of stiff new penalties for persons breaking the territory's COVID-19 health guidelines.

The new fines were announced by the Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon Carvin Malone (AL), during a COVID-19 update.

Included in the new measures is an increase in the level of fines under the COVID-19 Control and Suppression Entry Regulations of 2020, which will see persons who deliberately tamper and damage the geo-fencing device facing a fine of $2000.00, up from a paltry $125.00.

For those who break quarantine under the COVID-19 Control and Suppression (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2020 (No.5 of 2020), the penalty was increased to range from between $5000.00 to $10,000.00 for failing to comply with a quarantine order.

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