Jail for British man, Singaporean wife who met in hotel where he was serving stay-home notice

SINGAPORE: A British man and his Singaporean wife were jailed on Friday (Feb 26) for conspiring to breach a stay-home notice so that they could spend time together in a hotel room.

Nigel Skea, 52, was sentenced to two weeks’ jail and fined S$1,000. Agatha Maghesh Eyamalai, 39, was given a week’s jail.

Skea had conspired with Eyamalai, his then-fiancee, to meet in a room at a hotel 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,” she said. “Disruptions to relationships are an inevitable consequence. It requires patience and sacrifice (from) everyone … for the greater good.”

Prosecutors had called for four weeks’ jail and a S$1,000 fine for Skea, who was working as a tug master in the boat industry and had been deployed overseas for his work. They sought two weeks’ jail for Eyamalai.

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. Another four charges were taken into consideration. 

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 Sep 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.

However, 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 12.52am on Sep 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 1am, 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 2.22am 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 her room at 11.13am 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 Nov 14 last year.

The lawyer called it “a classic case of two lovers wanting to be together”.

The pair could have been fined up to S$10,000 and be jailed for up to six months for each offence.

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