American Teen Jailed for Cayman Islands Quarantine Breach Has Sentence Reduced from 4 Months to 2
Skylar Mack, 18, of Georgia, is currently in prison for breaking her mandatory 14-day quarantine after two days in order to watch her boyfriend compete in a jet ski race
An American teenager and her boyfriend who broke COVID-19 quarantine protocol in the Cayman Islands have had their prison sentences reduced from four months to two.
Skylar Mack, 18, a student from Loganville, Georgia, and Vanjae Ramgeet, 24, a professional jet-ski racer from the Cayman Islands, will only have to serve two months each in a Caymanian prison, according to court documents viewed by PEOPLE, after their attorneys successfully argued for more lenient sentences in the British territory's Court of Appeal on Tuesday.
According to the Cayman Islands government, Mack arrived on November 27, and was required to undergo a minimum 14-day quarantine-in-residence, per Caymanian Covid suppression guidelines. On November 29, Mack instead left her residence and removed her geo-fencing bracelet, which was tracking her location, in order to watch Ramgeet compete in a jet ski event.
Mack was detained at the scene by police who told the Cayman Compass that she was at the event for seven hours and did not wear a mask or practice social distancing. Both she and Ramgeet — who was charged with aiding and abetting his girlfriend — were placed in a government facility for a 14-day quarantine, which ended on December 15, and pled guilty to their offenses.
Tuesday's decision marks the second time their sentence has been changed.
Mack and Ramgeet were originally ordered to pay a $2,600 fine and participate in 40 hours of community service each, but that sentence was appealed on December 14, when the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Patrick Moran, took to the Grand Court to argue that their sentence did not fit their crime. They were then sentenced to four months in prison on December 15.
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According to the Compass, Ben Tonner, one of the attorneys representing Mack and Ramgeet, argued that the sentence never should have been increased, insisting that the original sentence was within the lower court’s jurisdiction and that the punishment of a fine and community service were not even the lowest-possible sentence that the couple could have received.
Court documents indicate that more information about the decision behind the appeal will be released in the future.
On Monday, Jeanne Mack, Skylar’s grandmother, sat down with TODAY for an on-screen interview, explaining that she and her family are looking to the U.S. government for help getting the teen out of prison and back on American soil.
"She knows she made a mistake. She owns up to that, but she's pretty hysterical right now,” Jeanne said at the time, adding, "She cries. She wants to come home.”
According to TODAY, Jeanne has written a letter to President Trump asking for his assistance.
A White House spokesman had no comment at the time.
A State Department spokesman told PEOPLE they are “aware of reports of the detention of a U.S. citizen in the Cayman Islands” but declined to comment further, citing privacy.
Speaking generally, however, the spokesman said the department "takes seriously its responsibility to assist U.S. citizens abroad” and “when a U.S. citizen is detained overseas, the Department works to provide all appropriate consular assistance.”
State Department assistance includes facilitating communication with the citizen’s family and others as well as monitoring the case for “a fair and transparent legal process” as well as “humane treatment,” the spokesman said.
"It's not like her to make this kind of a mistake," Jeanne continued of Skylar, who is a pre-med student at Mercer University. "She knows she screwed up. She knows she should have to pay for it."
However, Jeanne expressed that she believes that the Cayman Islands government is making an example of her granddaughter. "We're not asking for her to get an exception. We're asking for her not to be the exception,” she said.