Teen jailed for violating COVID-19 restrictions gets lesser sentence
An American teen jailed for violating COVID-19 restrictions in the Cayman Islands will only be behind bars for two months, her lawyer said Tuesday. Skylar Mack, a 21-year-old college student, was arrested on November 29 after breaking quarantine to take part in her boyfriend's jet ski competition.
Mack and her boyfriend Vanjae Ramgeet were originally sentenced to four months in prison but the sentence was reduced to two months in an appeals court Tuesday, attorney Jonathan Hughes told CBS News.
Hughes said the appeals court agreed that the four-month sentence was "inappropriate" given the circumstances of the case. "While we were hoping Skylar could return home in January to continue her studies, we accept the court's decision and look forward to receiving the written reasons in due course," Hughes said in a statement.
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Mack, a medical student at Mercer University in Georgia, flew to Grand Cayman on November 27th. She had to be quarantined for 14 days and given a smart bracelet and cell phone to track her movements, Hughes said. Mack signed a document and agreed not to leave her place of isolation without permission and not to remove her bracelet.
Skylar Mack / Photo Credit: WGCL
Two days later, she was spotted competing in a jet ski with Ramgeet, who lives in the Cayman Islands. Mack was not seen wearing her armband and both were reported to local police and taken to a mandatory quarantine facility.
On December 4, Mack was accused of leaving her home during the mandatory quarantine period and Ramgeet was accused of helping and assisting her, Hughes said. Later that day, they were both given 40 hours of community service and fined $ 2,600 each.
The public prosecutor appealed the judgment and called it mild. The Cayman Islands Grand Court agreed, and the young couple were sentenced to four months in prison. Since she has already served 1 week, Hughes said she should be released in about 4 weeks.
Judge Roger Chapple stated his decision at the hearing on December 15. "This was as blatant a violation as you can imagine. It was driven by selfishness and arrogance," Chapple said, according to the Cayman Compass newspaper. "This was entirely deliberate and planned, as evidenced by her desire to swap out her bracelet the day before for a looser one that she could then remove."
Her family has sentenced the four-month prison term, saying they had been treated unfairly and called on the Trump administration to intervene. Her father, Dennis Mack, said he did not know why anyone took "personal revenge" against his daughter. "We are at the mercy of another country," he told the CBS subsidiary WGCL.
The Cayman Islands have reported 316 positive coronavirus cases. More than 280 patients have recovered while two residents have died.
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