Defence lawyers urged a magistrate on Monday to dismiss charges against a married couple, who allegedly refused quarantine orders, claiming they were charged under the “wrong” law.
Fabian Antone John, 46, and his wife, Vanessa Maylin John, 48, from Kingsland Heights, Christ Church, were reportedly at the centre of an April 26 standoff with public health and law enforcement officials. They each face a charge of refusing to carry out the Chief Medical Officer’s order under Section 12 Subsection 1 (b) of the 1950 Quarantine Act.
The two pleaded not guilty when they appeared before Magistrate Elwood Watts in the District ‘C’ Magistrates’ Court.
But their defence counsel team of Michael Lashley, QC appearing with Simon Clarke and Sade Harris told the court “the police got it wrong”.
Lashley told the magistrate: “It is the Emergency Powers Act Order No. 3 that speaks to quarantine and quarantine stations but it is limited . . .
“They cannot be charged under the Quarantine Act. There will have to be an order or regulation made under the Quarantine Act specifically and they are charged under the Quarantine Act when there is no order under that Act to deal with a situation like this.
“We are saying that this charge under the Quarantine Act should be dismissed because it is too fundamental a defect to change now from one statutory instrument to a totally different instrument – that is the Emergency Management Order Act.”
The Queen’s Counsel reiterated: “They got it wrong, sir. We are saying that the prosecution cannot amend at this stage because it is too fundamental . . . this would be an amendment to the substance [of the charge] and we are submitting that based on the authorities that it cannot stand.
“These two people are not charged under any directive or any COVID rule.”
Following the defence submissions, Magistrate Watts granted police prosecutor Sergeant St Clair Phillips’s request for adjournment until May 31 to give the Crown time to respond to Lashley’s submissions.
The Johnses were granted $1,000 bail each. They secured the amount with one surety.