(CMR) Justice Cheryll Richards has denied an appeal by Canadian film director Thomas Michael, who sought to have his custodial sentence of 30 days for breaching quarantine overturned.
Michael was sentenced by Chief Magistrate Valdis Foldats on May 14 and placed into immediate custody. Michael and his family arrived on island on March 20 and were placed in quarantine at a private residence in North Side. He was charged after a routine check found he and the nanny were not be wearing their wristbands at the pool.
On Wednesday, his lawyer Ben Tonner argued that the magistrate made an error and applied the guidelines for breach of curfew without first adjusting it downward in favor of his client.
However, Justice Richards said there was nothing to suggests the magistrate fell in error. She said the judgment was clear that he was assessing the seriousness of the offense. She added that the sentence was not disproportionate to the gravity of the offense.
Justice Richards stated that the Summary Court had a much lower starting point than was in the Mack and Ramjeet case. Magistrate Foldats had started at 6 months instead of the 15 months used in that case.
She said the lower starting point for sentencing was indicative of an adjustment made in favor of the appellant. She also stated that the magistrate, in his judgment, also stated that he considered the case outside the Appeal Court decision in previous cases.
Justice Richards, in response to arguments that the offense was not as serious as previous quarantine breaches because Michael did not leave the residence, but only removed the wristband to enjoy a swim with his family, said the offense was serious to warrant a custodial sentence as the quarantine effectiveness rests on the wearing of the wrist bands.
The court also considered that Michael's wife was ill and unable to care for the children adequately and that hiring a nanny would mean a complete stranger taking care of the children. Justice Richards pointed out that Michael, in several letters to the court, had stated that he had several close friends on island, so his wife was able to get some level of emotional support.