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Trial starts of couple accused of breaking mandatory Covid quarantine

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Michael Watson and his wife, Sophia Cannonier, appeared in court to face seven charges related to Covid quarantine rules. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A couple accused of breaking Covid-19 quarantine rules had a crowd of supporters outside their home on the day a senior health officer came to arrest them, a court heard yesterday.

Armell Thomas said that he tried to have Sophia Cannonier, 52, and Michael Watson, 46, brought to a hotel for a mandatory government quarantine – but saw “at least five to seven people” outside the premises.

He added: “Later on as the night progressed there had to have been at least 50 people, which included a reporter. I left the premises around 3am and people were still coming in.”

Sophia Cannonier, 52, and Michael Watson, 46, have denied refusing to comply with a mandatory quarantine and failure to complete a Travel Authorisation form.

They have also pleaded not guilty to leaving their home on July 20, before the end of their quarantine period.

Ms Cannonier has also denied allowing unauthorised people to visit her on the same day.

The couple were met by about ten supporters with protest signs outside the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building before their trial at Magistrates’ Court.

Supporters stand outside the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building as Sophia Cannonier and Michael Watson stand trial for alleged breaches of Covid-19 rules (Photograph by Skeou Hendrickson)

Mr Thomas said that on July 11 last year he was told the couple had returned to their home with their two children despite being unvaccinated against Covid-19 and having to quarantine at a hotel.

He said that he attempted to have two rooms free of charge set up for the family and visited their Devonshire home to “basically have them arrested under the Quarantine Act”.

Mr Thomas added that he attempted to talk to the family but they declined to answer him.

He eventually spoke with their lawyer, Marc Daniels, and Nicholas Pedro, the acting Assistant Commissioner of Police, and they agreed to let the family stay at the house.

Mr Thomas added that he visited their home twice to deliver a letter to remind them that they had to stay indoors until they received a negative Day 14 Covid-19 test.

He told the court: “On the first day we went to the residence we got no response – I knocked on the door, called twice and then left it with a police officer on the premises.”

Roxanne Jackson, a port health administrator for the Department of Health, said she met the family at LF Wade airport after they got off a British Airways flight.

The couple explained that they did not provide proof of vaccination, which was necessary to complete their Travel Authorisation forms, because they were unvaccinated.

They added that they had a document to show they had developed antibodies to Covid-19 and asked to return to their home instead of quarantining at a hotel.

Ms Jackson told the court: “I told them that I’m not in a position to make those decisions, I’m just following what my job and role as a nurse tells us to do.”

Ms Jackson said she instructed them to complete their Travel Authorisation forms but they did not and left the airport.

Jeanna Jones, a police officer stationed at the airport, said that she was instructed to take the Cannonier family to a bus designated to take them to quarantine at a hotel.

But she added: “They were walking towards the bus, but then walked past the bus. They went to a grey van.”

Ms Jones said that the bus waited for the family, but after “several minutes” saw the family get into the van and the bus eventually left.

She told the court that Ms Cannonier said she could not afford to pay for the two-week quarantine, which would cost about $8,000, and that they had proof of antibiotic resistance.

Mr Daniels asked if Ms Jones had been instructed to arrest the Cannoniers after the bus left. She said she was not.

The trial continues.

• It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding criminal court cases. This is to prevent any statements being published that may jeopardise the outcome of that case.