Student jailed for virus breach is ‘terrified’
The family of an 18-year-old student sentenced to four months in a Cayman Islands jail for breaking the British territory's coronavirus isolation requirement has appealed to President Donald Trump for help in getting her sprung.
American Skylar Mack, a pre-med student at Mercer University in Georgia, has been locked up since December 15 along with her boyfriend, local resident and competitive jet skier Vanjae Ramgeet, 24.
The lovebirds were sentenced to four months behind bars after she slipped out of her wristband monitor to watch him compete instead of quarantining for 14 days after arriving from the US, local media reported.
An island judge slapped them with the jail term after overturning a previous sentence of 40 hours of community service and a $US2,600 ($A3,400) fine each, according to the Cayman News Service.
Ms Mack allegedly exposed four families, who were then required to quarantine. It was unclear if she or the four families tested positive for the illness.
"She cries, she wants to come home," Ms Mack's grandmother, Jeanne Mack, told NBC's Today show.
"She's really not eating," she said. "She's scared. She doesn't know what to do, she's talking about dropping out of college. She thinks people over here are going to hate her.
"It's not like her to make this kind of a mistake. She knows she screwed up. She knows she should have to pay for it.
"She is very remorseful. She's terrified."
The teen's family is now pleading for help to get her back home, including a letter her grandmother wrote Mr Trump.
"We're not asking for her to get an exception," Jeanne Mack said. "We're asking for her not to be the exception."
Ms Mack and Mr Ramgeet were the first people to be sentenced under harsher penalties for breaking isolation in the Caribbean territory, which has about 64,000 residents, according to "Today."
The three-island territory has recorded 311 confirmed covid cases and two deaths since the pandemic began.
Ms Mack - who travelled to the Cayman Islands on November 27 to visit Mr Ramgeet - tested negative for the bug before leaving and negative again when she arrived, according to Jonathon Hughes, the couple's lawyer.
But two days into her required two-week isolation, she attended a jet ski event in which Mr Ramgeet competed - leaving an electronic monitoring device behind.
After they pleaded guilty to violating the isolation period and were sentenced to community service and fines, a prosecutor argued that the punishment was too lenient.
The day before the aquatic event, the government changed its penalties for violating isolation from up to a year in jail and/or a fine of $US1,000 ($A1,300) to a sentence of up to two years in the slammer and/or a fine of up to $US10,000 ($A13,000), according to the Cayman Compass.
During the sentencing on December 15, Judge Roger Chapple said the couple's decision to violate the protocol was a result of "selfishness and arrogance," the Cayman outlet reported.
Ms Mack, who spent seven hours at the event, did not wear a mask or social distance, police told the paper.
Mr Hughes planned to appear Tuesday before the territory's appellate court to request a lesser sentence.
"This particular sentence would have a particularly harsh effect on her, and the court ought to have considered the individual before it, not just the crime," the lawyer told "Today."
This article originally appeared on the New York Post and is reproduced with permission
Originally published as Student jailed for virus breach 'terrified'