An American teenager put in prison in the Cayman Islands for violation COVID-19 restrictions will only serve two months behind bars, her lawyer said Tuesday. Skylar Mack, a 21-year-old college student, was arrested on November 29 after breaking her quarantine to attend her friend’s jet ski competition.
Mack and her boyfriend, Vanjae Ramreken, were originally sentenced to four months in prison, but the sentence was reduced to two months in an appeals court on Tuesday, attorney Jonathan Hughes told CBS News.
Hughes said the appeals court agreed that the four-month sentence was “inappropriate” given the circumstances of the case. “While it was our hope that Skylar would be able to return home in January to resume her studies, we accept the court’s decision and look forward to the written reasons in due course,” Hughes said in a statement.
Mack, a pre-medic student at Mercer University in Georgia, flew to Grand Cayman on Nov. 27. She was ordered to go into quarantine for 14 days and was given a smart wristband and cell phone to track her movements, Hughes said. Mack signed a document in which he agreed not to leave her isolation without permission and not to take off her wristband.
Two days later, she was spotted in a jet ski competition with Cayman Islands resident Ramreken. Mack was not seen wearing her wristband and they were both reported to the local police and taken to a mandatory quarantine facility.
On December 4, Mack was charged with leaving her home during the mandatory quarantine period, and Ramreken was charged with helping and encouraging her, Hughes said. Later that day, they were both given 40 hours of community service and fined $ 2,600 each.
Prosecutors appealed the verdict, calling it mild. The Grand Court of the Cayman Islands agreed, and the young couple were sentenced to four months in prison. Since she has already served 1 week, she should be released in about 4 weeks, according to Hughes.
Judge Roger Chapple explained his decision at the December 15 hearing. “This was as blatant a break as you can imagine; it came out of selfishness and arrogance,” Chapple said, according to the Cayman Compass newspaper. “This was completely deliberate and planned, as evidenced by her desire to change her wristband the day before for a looser one that she could then remove.”
Her family has condemned the four-month sentence by saying she has been treated unfairly and has called on the Trump administration to intervene. Her father, Dennis Mack, said he doesn’t know why anyone waged a “personal vendetta” against his daughter. “We are more or less at the mercy of another country,” he told CBS subsidiary WGCL.
The Cayman Islands have reported 316 positive coronavirus cases. More than 280 patients have recovered, while two residents have died.