British man breached SHN to meet fiancee; couple plead guilty

Nigel Skea sneaked out of his room at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore to meet fiancee Agatha Maghesh Eyamalai.
Nigel Skea sneaked out of his room at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore to meet fiancee Agatha Maghesh Eyamalai.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A Briton breached his stay-home notice (SHN) and sneaked out of his room at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore hotel in Marina Bay to meet his fiancee on another floor.

Nigel Skea, 52, left his room on the 14th storey without wearing a mask on three occasions on Sept 21 last year.

On the third occasion, he walked up the stairs at about 2.20am to meet Agatha Maghesh Eyamalai, a 39-year-old Singaporean, whose room was on the 27th storey.

Agatha was not serving an SHN at the time.

The couple, who got married in November last year, pleaded guilty to Covid-19-related offences on Monday (Feb 15). They will be sentenced on Feb 26.

Skea admitted to an offence under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act and another under the Infectious Diseases Act. His now-wife pleaded guilty to an offence under the Infectious Diseases Act.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Kee said that Skea had arrived at Changi Airport on Sept 20 last year and was issued with an SHN.

The Briton then texted Agatha who reserved a separate room at the hotel. She later texted him to say that she had checked in. Shortly before 1am on Sept 21, Skea left his room without wearing a mask.

As part of his plan to meet Agatha, he scouted the hotel premises for a viable route that he could take to get to her room.

The DPP said: “The accused walked to the emergency staircase on level 14 and realised that access to it...could only be opened from his side. The accused then walked back to his hotel room at... 12.56 am before realising that he was locked out.”

Skea then called the hotel’s reception counter for help and a staff member unlocked the door for him at 1.06am. The court heard that Skea left his room again at 2.22am and walked to the emergency staircase.

Before leaving, he used a piece of cardboard as a makeshift stopper so the room door was left slightly ajar for him to re-enter his room.

Skea went up to Agatha’s room and they spent the night together. He left at 11.13am but was unable to gain access to his floor. He walked down to the fourth storey where a security officer stopped him.

Defence lawyer S.S. Dhillon who represented the pair told the court on Monday that his clients had endured a “long separation” before they were reunited last September.

He added that they had made mistakes due to their “emotionally vulnerable state”.

Depending on their travel histories, people flying into Singapore are required to serve their SHN for either 14 or seven days, either at home or in government-mandated facilities.

SHNs were implemented by Singapore's multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 from Feb 18 last year and were made compulsory the following month for all travellers entering the Republic.