Lawyer pokes holes in state’s quarantine procedures
The lawyer for a woman who allegedly broke quarantine to attend a political rally is attempting to poke holes in the prosecution’s case by pointing out perceived loopholes in the state’s quarantine system.
Israel Bruce is advocating for his client Jeyandra Jackson, a North Union woman, who travelled to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) from Canada on October 22, arriving in the state on an Air Canada flight.
Jackson is accused of breaching her quarantine on October 27, mere hours after she was allowed to go home, where she should have quarantined away from others for another nine days.
The prosecution, led by crown counsel Shackell Bobb, had previously only called one witness before Jackson informed the court that she had asked Bruce to be her lawyer for her trial at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court.
Therefore, the court adjourned the matter for Bruce to read the evidence of the first witness, who is the nurse who screened Jackson when she arrived in the country. The nurse was recalled for further cross examination last Tuesday, December 8.
Nurse Clarke was questioned by Bruce about the Court Order that she said she had given to Jackson, mandating that the young woman was supposed to quarantine for 14 days.
A blank copy of the Order was admitted into evidence, “The purpose of this was to show that there was no signature,” the nurse commented on the document, recalling that the defendant had previously said she signed something.
“You remember saying to this court that the order will bear the name of the person,” to whom it is concerned, and the nurse replied that she did, adding “we insert the name.”
She was asked if the name of Jackson was on the Order before the court. The nurse replied that it was not.
The nurse noted that the document she gave to Jackson “was directed to her when I inserted her name and gave it to her, it was directed to her then.”
“Let me ask you, nurse Clarke, so once you prepare that Order, you would do a duplicate for her don’t you? …at least duplicate for her,” the lawyer asked.
The nurse explained they have many blank copies in which the passenger’s name is inserted when they enter the country. However, she admitted that they don’t do it in duplicate.
“So you’re saying that the health ministry does not keep a copy of the order as proof that they gave an order to the traveller? Seriously?” Bruce stated.
“Oh I see. Well today’s trial is to fill the gaps in the state’s procedures, you agree? Because therefore you have no proof that you gave her a copy of an Order. You agree with me?,” he said.
“I have no copy but it’s routine,” Clarke replied.
The next witness was Registered Nurse Shirley McDowall-McDonald, who was in the same room where Jackson was screened on arrival. She also visited her at the Government approved quarantine facility, Spring Garden Resorts, twice.
The second nurse informed the court that when she goes to a passenger, she is supposed to take their name, date of birth, take their temperature, and inform them that they will be at the hotel for five days; on the fourth day the team will come to take a swab from the person, after which the person will go home to spend a further nine days in quarantine at home.
The nurse said that she remembered Jackson from the airport because she was making a big noise, saying that she doesn’t want to quarantine.
The lawyer questioned if the nurse heard Jackson say she does not want to go in to quarantine.
“She was saying I’m not going to go to quarantine,” McDowallMcDonald replied. “The way she was loud, the room was small like this (referring to the courtroom), so the way she’s loud everybody can hear what she’s saying.”
The lawyer suggested to her that the only time she heard Jackson’s voice was when she asked that they be gentle with the conducting of the swab.
“Nope,” the nurse responded.
Bruce then turned his attention to the nurse’s visits to the hotel, and put it to her “that you don’t remember what you said to her then.”
He used the statement she gave to the police to demonstrate that she didn’t mention to the defendant to quarantine for five days, then a further nine.
“But when the police read that to you, you didn’t ask to have that inserted,” the lawyer contended, “…it is because you did not say it to her and you did not say it to the police.”
“I did say it to her, but maybe I didn’t say it to the police,” McDowall-McDonald said, saying she said it to the defendant on two occasions.
The nurse called the receptionist with the results on the final day of the hotel quarantine. Bruce asked her if she could say the exact message the receptionist gave to Jackson.
“I don’t know!” the nurse stated.
The counsel pointed out that her last communication was through the receptionist. “I’m suggesting to you that the receptionist simply says to her, ma’am you’re allowed to go home, call someone to go and pick you up. And that’s it,” he told her.
“So if that is what she said to her, can you then turn around and say she breached the Order?,” Bruce continued, asking if she would agree that that is a loophole in the communication system with regard to the Ministry’s system with regards to dealing with Covid-19 measures.
However, the nurse did not agree with this.
The receptionist was the next witness, and she said that all she told Jackson was that her result was negative and that she could go home.