First man to plead guilty for large-group gathering at Lazarus Island fined $3,000

Wan Ting Koh
·Senior Reporter
·3-min read
12 charged for breaching COVID-19 safe distancing measures at Lazarus Island. (PHOTO: Facebook)
12 charged for breaching COVID-19 safe distancing measures at Lazarus Island. (PHOTO: Facebook)

SINGAPORE — A British man who accompanied 11 others on a trip to Lazarus Island during Phase 2 of Singapore’s reopening was fined $3,000 on Wednesday (14 October).

Paul Jonathan Gold, 32, was the first of the group of mostly British citizens to plead guilty to his charges.

He admitted to gathering with the 11 others outside a place of residence that was not for the purpose of work, at Lazarus Island between 11am and 6pm on 8 August.

In Phase 2 of Singapore’s reopening, which began on 19 June, only up to five people per group are allowed in social gatherings.

The other 11 who have been charged are: Edward John Joseph Lee-Bull (32 years old), Dunford William Edwin (32), Luong Thi Thu Ha (31), Trimming James Riby Oram (31), Lagesse Richard Henri (31), Helen Ann Sullivan (30), Jeffs Lowri Mair (31), Roth Joshua Adam (31), Natalie Joanna Sarkies (29), Cronk Zoe Louise (30), and Jeff Richard Alexander (31).

Luong is a Vietnamese national who is a Singaporean permanent resident, Sarkies is a Singaporean and the remaining nine are British nationals.

Company terminated his work

On 8 August, at around 11am, the group took the ferry from mainland Singapore to St John’s Island and walked to the breach along Lazarus Island. They engaged in leisure activities together. At 6pm, the group took a ferry back to mainland Singapore.

Sarkies later posted a photo of the gathering on social media. The photo made rounds on other platforms, triggering public alarm.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Timotheus Koh sought a fine of $3,000 for Gold, saying that, even though there was no evidence to show the precise moment the group exceeded five, the group of 12 proceeded to Lazarus Island together and left together after seven hours.

Gold’s lawyer Anil Singh told the court that he started work with a property consultancy company, JLL, in January last year but has since been terminated due to his court case. Gold served his one-month notice until 18 September.

The lawyer pointed out that his client was the first in the group to plead guilty since he was charged less than two weeks ago.

This, the lawyer said, was the strongest mitigating factor, and he urged the court to consider that Gold had continued to adhere to social distancing rules and cooperated with the Singapore Land Authority.

“He is remorseful and in that regard apologetic for the folly of ways on 8 August, he has opted to plead guilty at an early stage and he has learned a bitter lesson and arising from this breach his stay in Singapore is about to come to an end and it is unlikely that he will be allowed to renter Singapore,” said Singh.

Gold could have been jailed up to six months and/or fined up to $10,000 for his charge.

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