Five men from Sangre Grande have become the first to be jailed for breaching public health regulations for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The men, who were among a group of nine persons charged with gathering in a group of more than five in breach of the regulations, were sentenced to between seven and 14 days in jail, a short while ago.
Jerrod Thomas, Michael Monroe, Derrick Andrews, Kevon Bengochea, and Nikel Williams received the sentences after pleading guilty to the offence during a virtual hearing before Magistrate Sarah Da Silva, this afternoon.
Thomas, Andrews, and Bengochea were each sentenced to 14 days in prison, while Monroe and Andrews received seven day sentences.
Leon Williams, Kerion Pereira, Kurt Richards and O’Neil Campo, who were arrested alongside the five men, attempted to plead guilty to the offence but sought to give an explanation.
After explaining that they could not enter a guilty plea and then challenge the charge through an explanation, Da Silva entered not guilty pleas on their behalf.
She then adjourned their case to June 7.
According to a release issued by the T&T Police Service (TTPS), this morning, the group was held as police officers allegedly found them congregating outside a parlour along Quash Trace in Sangre Grande on Sunday morning.
They were charged under Section 3(1)(b) of the regulations, which carries a maximum penalty of a $250,000 fine and six months in prison.
One additional person was held in the exercise and was ticketed for littering and for failing to wear a mask in a public space. Seven public health notices were also issued. The members of the group were between 21 to 56-years-old.
Guardian Media understands while hundreds of persons have been charged for breach of the regulations that have been in place since, last year, the group was the only one to be imprisoned as most cases are yet to come up for hearing or ended in persons being fined or getting not guilty verdicts.
The case was prosecuted by police prosecutor Nicholas Ramdeen.
Reporter: Derek Achong