SINGAPORE: A man was fined S$3,000 on Wednesday (Oct 14) for meeting 11 other people for a social gathering on Lazarus Island, violating prohibitions on such gatherings during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Paul Jonathon Gold, a 32-year-old British national, was the first of the group to plead guilty to a single charge of gathering with other individuals outside his home and not for work.
His co-accused are: British nationals Jeff Richard Alexander, 31; Zoe Louise Cronk, 30; Joshua Adam Roth, 31; Lowri Mair Jeffs, 31; Edward John Joseph Lee-Bull, 32; William Edwin Dunford, 32; James Riby Oram Trimming, 30; Richard Henri Lagesse, 31; Helen Ann Sullivan, 30; Vietnamese national Luong Thi Thu Ha, 31, and 29-year-old Singaporean Natalie Joanna Sarkies.
The court heard that the 12 people took a ferry from mainland Singapore to St John's Island at about 11am on Aug 2 this year, before walking to the beach along the Island and engaging in various leisure activities together.
On the same day, they took a ferry back to the mainland and Sarkies posted a photo of the group gathering on Instagram. The photo was later reposted on various platforms, drawing public attention and alarm.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh asked for a fine of at least S$3,000, citing past similar cases and saying Gold has no previous convictions.
Gold's lawyer Anil Singh asked for a fine of between S$2,000 and S$2,500, saying that his client only started work in January last year, but was terminated because of this incident.
He said his client is the first of the group to plead guilty and is doing so at "a very early stage".
He also urged the court to note that this was "a one-off offence" and said Gold "continues to adhere to social distancing rules".
"He is remorseful and is apologetic for the folly of his ways on Aug 8," said Mr Singh. He also said that Gold "has learned a bitter lesson", adding that this breach means "his stay in Singapore is about to come to an end and it is unlikely he will be allowed to re-enter Singapore".
For breaching a COVID-19 regulation, Gold could have been jailed for up to six months, fined up to S$10,000 or both.