SINGAPORE: A British national and his Singaporean wife pleaded guilty on Monday (Feb 15) to illegally spending time together during his stay-home notice at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia hotel.
Under COVID-19 regulations, Nigel Skea, 52, was required to stay in his hotel room for 14 days. He breached the rules three times and on the third departure, met his then-fiancee Agatha Maghesh Eyamalai in a different room in the same hotel.
READ: British man, Singaporean fiancee charged after he breaches stay-home notice to meet her in hotel
On Sep 21 last year, he left his room without a mask on three occasions. According to court documents, he loitered along the corridor outside his room on the 14th floor twice, for about 10 minutes each time.
On the third occasion, he met Eyamalai, 39. She was not serving a stay-home notice but had booked a different room on the 27th floor of the same hotel.
The pair met on the 27th floor, with Eyamalai opening an emergency exit door for Skea. They then spent the night together in the room from about 2.30am to 11.40am. Skea eventually tested negative for COVID-19.
They were charged under the Infectious Diseases (COVID-19 – Stay Orders) Regulations 2020 and COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act 2020 last month.
The prosecution proposed that Skea be jailed for four weeks and fined S$1,000, and for Eyamalai to be jailed for two weeks.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Kee said that Skea had “clearly premeditated” the offences, as he had scouted a viable route to get to Eyamalai’s hotel room, and also used a cardboard stopper to leave his hotel room ajar so he could return. He would otherwise have been locked out.
He managed to get to Eyamalai’s room with her help when she opened a one-way door at an emergency staircase.
When he tried to return to his room, he was unable to do so and needed help from hotel staff members. He lied that he became stuck after his room door closed accidentally behind him as he was trying to collect the food left outside his room, the court heard.
Mr Kee said that the duration the couple spent together was “quite significant”.
In mitigation, defence lawyer for both Skea and Eyamalai S S Dhillon said that Skea’s primary reason for coming to Singapore was to marry his fiancee. They got married on Nov 14 last year.
“This is a classic case of two lovers wanting to be together,” he said, adding that they made their mistake because of their “emotionally vulnerable state”.
Mr Dhillon said Eyamalai did a “foolish” thing because of love and the long separation from Skea.
“She couldn’t wait to see him once he had arrived in Singapore,” he said.
“This love element, long separation, couldn’t make them wait any longer to see each other.”
There was “minimal contact” with any other person, which should be taken into account for sentencing, Mr Dhillon said.
In response, Mr Kee said the couple only had to wait for 14 days.
The case is expected to return to court on Feb 26. Skea and Eyamalai could be fined up to S$10,000 and be jailed for up to six months for each offence.