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Magistrate: ‘I think they’re criminalising people who are otherwise not criminals’

The island’s top magistrate yesterday said that Covid regulations are ‘criminalising people who are otherwise not criminals’.

Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe told Magistrates’ Court that many breaches of the Public Health Regulations created criminal records for people who otherwise did not engage in criminal behaviour.

He said: “I think they’re criminalising people who are otherwise not criminals.”

Mr Wolffe was speaking after he fined three people for breaches of the previous curfew – two of whom were a mother and son.

Oneka Trott, 53, and her son, Chaz, 19, both pleaded guilty to a breach of the previous 11pm to 5am curfew.

The court heard that police pulled the two over on Middle Road in Devonshire around 11.30pm on April 9.

Oneka Trott told the court that they were out so her son could practice for his driving test and that they were minutes away from their Devonshire home.

She added that she thought the curfew was at midnight and that the whole situation was a misunderstanding.

Mr Wolffe fined them each $750 and gave them until December 31 to pay.

Zayne Simmons-Smith, 20, was fined $1,000 after she admitted a breach of the previous midnight to 5am curfew.

Simmons-Smith was stopped on Middle Road in Paget around 12.30am on January 31.

She told police: “My friends were out drinking and I went to give them a ride.”

Simmons-Smith told the court that she had not been out herself, but got a call from her friends and went to help them. Mr Wolffe gave her until August 2 to pay her fine.

Legislation just been passed so that safety regulation breaches will be dealt with using fixed-penalty tickets instead of a criminal conviction.

The tickets will be used to penalise less serious breaches, including breaking curfew, and would include fines that would not result a criminal conviction if paid within 28 days.

More serious breaches, such as knowingly spreading Covid-19, would be treated as a criminal offence.

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