After delays on two separate occasions, the trial of husband and wife Sophia Cannonier and Michael Watson began yesterday morning (June 9) in Magistrate’s Court.
The couple are charged with failing to fully complete a travel authorization form and refusing to comply with a mandatory quarantine, as required at the time. Both offenses allegedly occurred on July 11 of last year.
They are also charged with leaving their home on July 20, before the end of their mandatory quarantine period.
TNN’s Trevor Lindsay spoke with the couple before they headed into Court. Ms. Cannonier said that
she felt fantastic and powerful.
“ Whatever the Magistrate decides, it will be a win-win for us,” she said. “ I’m just glad that we’re going to be listened to, which was the entire problem [in the first place.] Now, they have to listen
to us . . . [If given the opportunity], I would thank the judge for listening to us.”
Ms. Cannonier believes that she and her family were discriminated against by the Government because they have natural immunity from contracting the virus earlier on, as opposed to receiving a COVID vaccine. She also feels that there is no reasonable excuse to place her and
her family in a hotel room for two weeks, when they have a home to quarantine in.
She wishes to have a face-to-face conversation with Premier David Burt to discuss their differences.
“ This is happening all over the world and these kinds of trials are coming to light and people are winning them, because they know that the policies put in place [to try and prevent the virus’
spread] are not justified,” Mr. Watson said. “ This trial is our little piece to chip away at the cause.”
The first witness to testify in the trial, which is being heard before Magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo, was Niketa Lambert, who was the Department of Health’s administer for Port Health when Ms.
Cannonier, Mr. Watson and their children arrived back on the island on July 11 of last year, on British Airways flight 159.
Ms. Lambert told the court that around 15 to 20 people, including some media, were waiting for the defendants and their family outside of the airport and that a pre-arranged bus was waiting to
take them and all other unvaccinated travelers to designated hotels to quarantine.
According to Ms. Lambert, however, the defendants walked past their designated transportation and left the airport in private cars. She watched their designated bus leave the airport without them.
Nurse Roxanne Jackson, who was working at the airport’s Nurses’ kiosk on the date in question, was the next witness to testify in Court. According to her, she told the family that, in order to be exempt from quarantining at a designated hotel at their own expense, the family had to properly fill out the relevant paperwork, which she told the Court they did not do.
She also told the court that neither Ms. Cannonier nor Mr. Watson electronically signed their travel authorization form and they informed her that they had no intention of ever signing it. She also confirmed that their travel authorization forms got rejected, due to a “lack of proper immunization.”
During cross-examination, Ms. Jackson admitted to Marc Daniels, the defendants’ attorney, that there was so much back and forth that went on that evening and that it was so long ago, she
does not remember exactly how the situation unfolded at the airport, or if she gave the defendants a physical travel authorization form to sign or not.
The next witness to testify during the days session was Senior Environmental Health Officer Arnell Thomas, who told the Court that, once he found out that the defendants had allegedly breached COVID-19 regulations, he went to the police station to ask what his next steps should be, before going to their Devonshire home on the date in question.
Mr. Thomas told the Court that he visited their home that night to inform them that they breached COVID and quarantine guidelines. However, a decision was made to not pursue any
action against the Cannonier-Watson family at that time.
The trial continues tomorrow in Magistrate’s Court.
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Story courtesy of Stefano Ausenda