(CMR) Justice Roger Chapple found that a lower court's decision to hand down a sentence of community service was “unduly lenient” and a term of imprisonment was appropriate in the circumstances.
He sentenced the first defendant Skylar Mac (18) to nine months imprisonment. However, with a number of reductions given she was sentenced to four months imprisonment.
Vanjae “VJ” Ramgeet (24) also received a sentence of four months imprisonment. He saw no need to treat them differently.
In reading his judgment he shared that in the short time available to him he was able to do a written judgment but perhaps not as polished as he would have liked it to be.
The facts are that on December 4 Skylar Mack and Vanjae “VJ” Ramgeet appeared before Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez in Summary Court for the commission of covid-19 breach. Ramgeet was charged with aiding and abetting the offense.
Magistrate Hernandez gave the pair 40 hours of community service each and a compensation order of CI$2,600 to cover the cost of the government quarantine facility where they were moved to.
Ramgeet also received a curfew order of two months following his release from quarantine.
On appeal, Patrick Moran requested a sentence of immediate imprisonment. It was also disclosed that around midday on her second day in isolation she asked to have her wrist band removed in order to facilitate later removing it to attend a jetski event the following day.
Judge Chapple stressed that the court does not seek to interfere with the sentencing of a lower court except where it falls outside the range of appropriate sentences and if it is too lenient.
He critically noted that the magistrate did not dwell on the public's disapproval of the actions of the pair and that should have weighed more heavily in her judgment.
In her ruling, the judge emphasized that the first defendant was scheduled to leave the Cayman Islands on December 21 and therefore 40 community service hours was all she could give as a maximum to be completed in that period of time. However, Justice Chapple found that should not have weighed in the sentencing process.
He stressed that the fundamental purpose of sentencing impose just sanctions and denounce unlawful conduct and deter convicted persons and other persons from committing the same offense.
He discussed the need for proportionality and application of a custodial sentence where all other sentences would not be appropriate.
The couple left the shocked courtroom after hearing their sentence and were prepared for the departure to prison. Soon afterward they were captured leaving the premises finally wearing masks heading to the police car.
In real terms, she may only serve several months in jail.