Indian-origin woman, her British husband jailed for breaching Singapore's COVID-19 safety measures

Gurdip Singh
·3-min read

Singapore, Feb 26 (PTI) A 39-year-old Indian-origin woman and her British husband were jailed in Singapore on Friday for breaking the country's strict quarantine rules so that they could spend time together in a hotel room here last year, according to a media report.

While Agatha Maghesh Eyamalai was jailed for a week, her British husband Nigel Skea, 52, was sentenced to two weeks' jail and slapped with a fine of 1,000 Singapore dollars (USD 752), The Straits Times reported.

In September, Nigel conspired with Eyamalai, his then-fiancee, to meet in a room of a luxury hotel here where he was serving a stay-home notice after arriving in Singapore from London.

District Judge Jasvender Kaur said it was not harsh for her not to place mitigating weight on the explanation for their breach – that Skea had travelled to propose marriage and they both were overcome by emotions after not seeing each other for a very long time.

'The fact of the matter is that the restrictions are necessary to prevent the spread of the pandemic,' the Indian-origin judge said.

'Disruptions to relationships are an inevitable consequence. It requires patience and sacrifice (from) everyone ... for the greater good,' the Channel News Asia quoted Judge Kaur as saying.

The pair pleaded guilty earlier this month. Skea admitted to two charges of exposing others to risk of infection by leaving his hotel room while on stay-home notice and failing to wear a mask.

Eyamalai, who subsequently married Skea, pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiring with Skea to breach his stay-home notice.

Skea had arrived in Singapore from London on September 20, 2020, and was given a stay-home notice which he was to serve in a room at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia hotel. He was told that he could not leave his room nor have any visitors and acknowledged these requirements.

He sent a text message to Eyamalai to tell her he had arrived at the hotel and they agreed to meet each other. Eyamalai booked a room at the same hotel and checked in.

At 12:52 am on September 21, 2020, Skea left his hotel room without wearing a mask to scout the premises and find a viable route to get to Eyamalai's room.

However, he got locked out at an emergency staircase and called the hotel's reception counter for aid. At about 1 am, a hotel employee went to Skea's room and helped him to unlock it, noticing that he was not wearing a mask.

Skea left his room again at 2:22 am after a phone call from Eyamalai. He propped open his door with a piece of cardboard before walking up the stairs from the 14th floor to the 27th floor where Eyamalai was waiting.

They spent the night together in Eyamalai's room. Skea left the room at 11:13 am and tried to return to his own room, but was stopped by a security officer.

He lied that he had become stuck when his room door closed accidentally behind him while he was trying to collect food left outside. However, his lie was uncovered when his door was found ajar.

The couple's defence lawyer S S Dhillon said in mitigation that Skea had come to Singapore primarily to marry his fiancee. They did so on November 14 last year.

The lawyer called it 'a classic case of two lovers wanting to be together'. PTI GS NSA