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American teen and boyfriend jailed 4 months for violating quarantine in Cayman Islands

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The judge wanted to lock up the 18-year-old for over a year

Twitter @MonaKAbdi video screenshot

An American teen was sentenced to four months in jail for violating the COVID-19 quarantine in the Cayman Islands. Her boyfriend is also going to jail for helping her breach the government-imposed lockdown.

Skylar Mack, an 18-year-old from Loganville, Georgia, visited the Cayman Islands to see her boyfriend on Nov. 27. Mack traveled to the Caribbean island to watch her boyfriend, Vanjae Ramgeet, participate in a jet ski competition.

Mack, whose father is also a professional jet ski racer, was required by Cayman Island government to quarantine for 14 days upon her arrival. Authorities fitted Mack with an iMSafe wristband, a device that monitors the location of people who are under quarantine. The Cayman Islands has been utilizing TraceSafe's iMSafe geo-fencing bracelets since September.

Mack complained that her tracking device was too tight, so authorities at her hotel loosened the wristband, according to People magazine. Mack was able to slip off the wristband. On Nov. 29, she attended the jet ski event that her boyfriend was participating in. She spent over seven hours in public without a face mask or social distancing, which resulted in four families having to go into isolation because they were exposed to Mack.

Mack was arrested for violating the quarantine. Ramgeet, 24, was charged with aiding and abetting Mack. Both pled guilty to their offenses.

Mack and Ramgeet were originally sentenced to 40 hours of community service and a fine of $2,600 each, but the sentence was appealed for being too lenient.

"These offenses should have been met with far more stringent measures," said Patrick Moran, the country's director of Public Prosecutions.

On Tuesday, Justice Roger Chapple overturned the community service sentence. He started the sentencing at 15 months in jail because of the aggravating circumstances, but ultimately reduced the punishment to four months because the couple pleaded guilty.

Attorney Jonathan Hughes, who is representing both Mack and Ramgeet, argued the sentence was too harsh. He said his clients acted with "youthful ignorance and selfishness."

"There is no way that it can be right that a custodial sentence is imposed for a first-time offense on an 18-year-old defendant, who entered an early guilty plea," said Hughes.

"Ms. Mack has paid her fine in full from her savings, which resulted in a significant portion of her funds being depleted," Hughes continued. "She has received hate mail, so far as to say even death threats. This has even impacted her father, who is also a professional jet-ski rider and has now lost sponsorship because of it."

Mack, who is a medical student at Mercer University in Georgia, issued an apology letter, which was published by the Cayman Compass.

"I am aware that the Cayman Islands government has done nothing but dedicate extreme caution to combat the spread of COVID-19, for this the country and its citizens can be extremely proud; I made a mistake, and words cannot express how sorry I am for this," Mack said. "I was afforded the opportunity to enter the islands during these trying times and I abused it. I am humbly asking for the forgiveness of the community."

Ramgeet also apologized by saying, "I should have known better than to put our community at risk as I did. I made a decision without thinking about the long-term effects it would have on our community; words cannot express how truly sorry I am for the anxiety, frustration, and inconvenience that you all have experienced."

Ramgeet was stripped of his victory at the jet ski competition and was reportedly forced to return the prize money and trophy he had won. The Cayman Islands Watercraft Association declared that Ramgeet would not be allowed to compete in the first few races of 2021.

The Cayman Islands government issued a statement.

"Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in early 2020, the Cayman Islands Government has prioritized the safety of its residents and their protection from the global COVID-19 pandemic," the government stated. "To accomplish this goal the Government employed stringent isolation and social distancing policies."

"Anyone wishing to enter the islands is required to quarantine in an approved facility, or at residence using monitoring technology," the government warned. "Breaches of quarantine may result in prosecution and penalties of up to $10,000 KYD [approximately $12,195 USD] and two years' imprisonment."

The Cayman Islands has reportedly had 308 coronavirus cases and two COVID-19 deaths, according to Worldometers.

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