Sophia Cannonier and husband in court charged with more quarantine breaches
Sophia Cannonier and her husband Michael Watson reappeared in Magistrates’ Court yesterday and denied additional charges of breaching the Government’s Covid-19 quarantine regulations.
Ms Cannonier, 53, and Mr Watson, 46, were charged with refusing to comply with a mandatory quarantine as directed by a health officer by leaving their Devonshire home before the end of their quarantine.
Ms Cannonier was also charged with allowing unauthorised people to visit her in quarantine.
The couple, who both appeared in court from their home via Zoom, pleaded not guilty to all charges. The incidents were alleged to have happened yesterday.
The allegations came a week after they were charged with refusing to comply with a mandatory quarantine and failing to complete a Travel Authorisation Form.
They also denied those charges, which were alleged to have happened on July 11.
Senior magistrate Juan Wolffe also gave a statement on a “fundamental misunderstanding of the way in which the criminal justice system works and about the independence of the judiciary” and that he made no quarantine order.
Mr Wolffe also said: “On Wednesday July 14, 2021, the defendants pleaded not guilty to one count of refusing to comply with a requirement to quarantine as directed by a health officer and one count of failing to complete a travel authorisation form.
“At that time, the prosecution made an application that the court should order the defendants to be quarantined at their residence.
“It was the prosecution’s position that the defendants would quarantine at home rather than at an approved facility.
“Having heard submissions from both counsel, I granted bail to the defendants with the condition that they remain at their residence until they receive a negative test result on Monday, July 19, 2021.
“However, there now appears to be a fundamental misunderstanding of the way in which the criminal justice system works and about the independence of the judiciary.
“Whenever a person is charged with an offence it is imperative that they be treated as innocent until proven guilty – that is their constitutional right and this right is sacrosanct.
“It is also their right under the Bail Act 2005 to be granted bail and any conditions attached to that bail must be consistent with their constitutional right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty.
“It must therefore remain clear that I made no order that the defendants should be placed into quarantine; the reason for this is because, in consideration with the proceedings which were before me, the court has no power whatsoever – particularly under the Bail Act – to quarantine anyone.
“The power to place persons into quarantine rests strictly with the health officer as per the relevant quarantine legislation.
“This leads me to my next point – the powers of the court under the relevant criminal law legislation and procedures is separate and distinct from the powers of any health officer, or any other government department that they may have under the relevant quarantine legislation.
“Both sets of powers can exist together without being a contradiction or a discrepancy.
“Therefore, the only issue for my determination is whether or not the defendants are in compliance with the bail conditions which I set.
“Whether or not they are placed in quarantine is a matter strictly for a health officer.
“The defendants now appear on new charges and the same principles apply – that is, they are innocent until proven guilty, and that the courts have no power to quarantine them as a result of their not guilty pleas.
“The only difference today is that there is now before the court alleged evidence that the defendants have been placed into quarantine.
“The prosecution says this by way of the evidence in a letter dated July 18, 2021.
“Obviously this letter was not brought before the courts on July 15, 2021, when the defendants first appeared in court.
“Whether or not the defendants have actually been placed into quarantine and when they were placed in quarantine would no doubt be ventilated at a trial.
“However, these new charges are a factor which I can take into consideration when deciding bail and any conditions of bail.
“In the circumstances, I will now concede to the prosecution’s application given the new charges to have the defendants remain at their premises until July 25, 2021, until such time that they have received a negative test.
“Let me be clear – I make no order that they are quarantined.
“As I said earlier, that is not my function and this in no way whatsoever derogates from their constitutional right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty.
Mr Wolffe released them each on $3,000 bail and ordered them to stay at home until they received a negative Day 14 Covid-19 test, which will take place on July 25.
He adjourned the case until August 16.