SINGAPORE: The last four people in a group of 12 hauled to court for breaking COVID-19 social gathering restrictions were fined S$3,000 each in court on Wednesday (Feb 24).
The British nationals have also been permanently banned from working in Singapore, said the Manpower Ministry on Thursday, adding that their work passes have been revoked for breaching regulations under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act.
Joshua Adam Roth, 31; Edward John Joseph Lee-Bull, 33; Helen Ann Sullivan, 31; and 31-year-old James Riby Oram Trimming pleaded guilty to one count each of gathering with other individuals for a non-permitted purpose.
They had met eight other people on Aug 2 last year, during Phase 2 of Singapore's reopening after a "circuit breaker" that placed curbs on movement to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
The group took a ferry from mainland Singapore to St John's Island at about 11am, before walking to Lazarus Island where they spent the day doing leisure activities together.
They returned to the mainland at about 6pm, and one of them posted a photo of the group gathering on Instagram. The case came to light after the photo was reposted on various platforms.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh asked for a fine of S$3,000 for each of the four accused, as that was what their co-accused received.
Lawyer Shafiuddin Ong, who represented Joseph Lee-Bull, Roth and Sullivan, said his clients were sorry for their actions and regret them.
"With the benefit of hindsight, they realise the severity of their actions," he said, adding that the fines for breaches during the circuit breaker and breaches in Phase 2 should be different.
Trimming, who was unrepresented, said that he would like to express his remorse and regret for his actions.
In response, the prosecutor said this point about differing fines had already been addressed in previous hearings involving the co-accused.
"We are curious as to why the defence is raising this again. We said previously that there should be no difference between the treatment of cases during and after the circuit breaker," said Mr Koh. "The regulations or purpose behind the regulations is the same, and it is to guard against the outbreak of COVID-19."
He added that the accused knew "full well that they shouldn't be gathering in that size" and should be sentenced according to their actions.
The judge agreed that there should not be any noticeable difference in the way offences committed during and after the circuit breaker are dealt with.
For breaching a COVID-19 regulation, each of the accused could have been jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$10,000 or both.