SINGAPORE: Six people who took part in a gathering of 12 people on Lazarus Island were fined S$3,000 each on Thursday (Nov 26) for breaking COVID-19 laws.
The six pleaded guilty to a charge of meeting others for a non-permitted purpose and without reasonable excuse under the COVID-19 regulations.
They are: British nationals William Edwin Dunford, 32, Richard Henri Lagesse, 31, Lowri Mair Jeffs, 31, Zoe Louise Cronk, 30, Jeff Richard Alexander, 32, and 29-year-old Singaporean Natalie Joanna Sarkies.
Co-accused Paul Jonathon Gold, 32, was the first to plead guilty and was fined S$3,000 in October.
At 11am on Aug 8, the group took a ferry to St John’s Island, before walking to the beach at Lazarus Island. They spent the day there before taking a ferry back to mainland Singapore at about 6pm.
Sarkies posted photos of the trip on Instagram featuring all 12 accused, and the photos were reported on various media platforms, “attracting public attention and causing public alarm”, said the prosecutor.
He asked for a fine of S$3,000 for all six who pleaded guilty on Thursday, saying that Gold had been fined the same amount.
Defence lawyer Shafiuddin Ong originally represented all six but was discharged on Thursday by Sarkies, Lagesse and Cronk.
Speaking for Dunford, Jeffs and Alexander, he said his clients have realised the folly of their conduct and regret the incident.
He said the cases cited by the prosecutor occurred during the “circuit breaker” period while this gathering occurred during Phase 2 of Singapore’s reopening. He asked for fines of S$2,500 each.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh responded that just because the incident occurred during Phase 2 did not translate to a lower sentence as there is no correlation between the easing of safe-distancing measures and the sentence that should be imposed.
He added that the accused breached measures that were put in place to guard against a second wave of COVID-19 infections, and the court should not endorse the society letting down its guard.
In mitigation, Sarkies said: “I take full responsibility for the actions that I have done and I would like to express my deep regret and remorse, especially during these tough times.”
Lagesse said he was extremely sorry for what they did and regrets his actions, saying it “certainly won’t happen again”.
Cronk also apologised, saying: “I deeply regret our actions of that day and I sincerely apologise for it and I can confirm it definitely will not be happening again.”
For breaching a COVID-19 regulation, the accused could have been jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$10,000 or both.
The cases for the remaining five accused are pending: Joshua Adam Roth, Edward John Joseph Lee-Bull, Helen Ann Sullivan, James Riby Oram Trimming and Luong Thi Thu Ha.