Briton in 12-person gathering on Lazarus Island fined $3,000 for flouting safe distancing measures

Paul Jonathon Gold was fined $3,000 in lieu of six days in jail. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Briton Paul Jonathon Gold was fined $3,000 for flouting safe distancing measures and taking part in an unlawful gathering on Lazarus Island amid the Covid-19 outbreak on Aug 8.

The 32-year-old man was part of a 12-person gathering on the island that violated Covid-19 regulations that prohibit social gatherings of more than five people who do not stay in the same place of residence.

He was fined $3,000, with six days' jail in default if he did not pay.

According to court documents, the unlawful gathering took place between 11am and 6pm on Aug 8.

Gold and the other 11 persons at the gathering were charged on Oct 2 for an offence under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act.

The others are Natalie Joanna Sarkies, 29; Helen Ann Sullivan, 30; Zoe Louise Cronk, 30; Jeff Richard Alexander, 31; Joshua Adam Roth, 31; Lowri Mair Jeffs, 31; James Riby Oram Trimming, 31; Richard Henri Lagesse, 31; Luong Thi Thu Ha, 31; William Edwin Dunford, 32, and Edward John Joseph Lee-Bull, 32.

All of them are British except for Sarkies, who is a Singaporean, and Ha, who is Vietnamese and has been a Singapore permanent resident for 11 years.

The court heard that the group had taken a ferry from mainland Singapore to St John's Island at around 11am on Aug 8.

After arriving on St John's Island, they walked to the beach on Lazarus Island, where they engaged in various leisure activities. The group then took a ferry from St John's Island back to mainland Singapore at around 6pm the same day.

Gold was spotted in a photograph posted by Sarkies on Instagram.

"The accused knew, but did not care, that he was breaking the law. His conduct belittles the tremendous efforts and sacrifices of the vast majority who have, among many things, given up the pleasures of social interaction with family and friends for the public good to contain the spread of Covid-19", said Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh.

"The court should take this opportunity to send a clear deterrent message that we must continue to remain vigilant, and that retribution against offenders during this time of crisis will be swift and certain."

In his mitigation plea, defence lawyer Anil Singh asked for leniency as Gold has since been dismissed from his job at real estate investment firm Jones Lang Lasalle and will likely "not be able to re-enter Singapore again".

He also noted that Gold had pleaded guilty at an early stage, and he had adhered to social distancing rules after this "one-off offence".

The cases involving the remaining 11 people will be heard on Oct 23.

If found guilty of the offence under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, first-time offenders can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $10,000.

Repeat offenders can be jailed for up to a year and fined up to $20,000.

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