More “vicious fines” and jail time are coming for persons who continue to flout the COVID-19 protocols put in place to safeguard the wider public, Chief Magistrate Ian Weekes has said.
The judicial officer sounded the clear warning today after a 46-year-old man who left home to sell a ‘fowl cock’ on February 15 pleaded guilty to breaching one of the island’s COVID directives – that is for every person to observe social distancing and associated protocols in the interest of public health.
Wayne Anthony Clarke, of Cottage Village, St Lucy failed to comply by remaining outdoors in a group, exceeding five people, who were not members of the same household.
Sergeant Vernon Waithe said the first-time offender was standing near a cockfighting ring yesterday and began to run along with other people, who scattered in different directions when police arrived. Clarke who had a bird in his hand was apprehended and asked to account for his presence. “I was just there to sell a cock,” he said to lawmen at the time.
He was taken to the police station and interviewed and again said “I wasn’t cockfighting; I just went there to sell the cock for $150.”
Weekes asked him whether he was aware that people had been losing their lives due to the pandemic, asking Clarke “and you out in a crowd, to sell a cock?”
The guilty man explained that while he does not deny being around the ring he had followed the protocols by wearing a mask and other things. “Sir it was a transaction that take ten minutes. I practised social distancing.”
The explanation did not go down well with Weekes.
“You saw the doctor crying on TV last night? I was emotional for her. You all do not understand they are putting their lives at risk, they and their families, for us! And you are arrogant enough to come in here and say ‘oh I had on my mask’. Why shouldn’t you go to jail?”
Clarke responded, “A fella tell me somebody want to buy a bird and that is how I end up at that. I carry the feed there for him and he tell me the same time somebody want to buy a bird so I look at it as an opportunity to buy more feed.”
He then apologized saying that he had made a mistake.
“That mistake will cost you $5 000 in six months or nine months in jail,” Weekes stated.
“You all are not taking this thing seriously. These fines will be going up. Enough of the nonsense! Certainly, more vicious fines coming than this . . . and jail . . . cause wanna ain’t hearing . . .
“You’ll need to be patriots for de cause
. . . because a lot of you all are posing a clear and present danger to all of us,” the Chief Magistrate added as he handed down his ruling.
Clarke has been advised that he can approach the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court for an extension if he is unable to pay the amount in time.