Five welders jailed for breaking coronavirus rules released from prison on Isle of Man

Five welders jailed for breaking coronavirus rules released from prison on Isle of Man

 

The five welders from Doncaster jailed on the Isle of Man after breaking virus rules have been released from prison.

But the workmates still cannot come home after being put in isolation in a hotel for two weeks because one of them tested positive for Covid-19.

Visiting at the jail they were were kept in has now been suspended after the positive test came back on Saturday.

Christopher Lafayette, aged 62, Jack Smith, aged 18, Michael Smith, aged 43, Robbie Rhodes, aged 18, and Luke Fletcher, aged 22, arrived on the island on Tuesday, September 29th to work on Manx Electric Railway.

After leaving the Sea Terminal, the welders apparently stopped at Tesco, before heading to McDonald’s, instead of going straight to their hotel as per the island’s strict rules.

The men were handed their sentences on Thursday, October 1 but have now served their time.

The Sunday Mirror told how the stunned men were led away in handcuffs after a police swoop.

One relative said: “They’re in jail and yet the politicians break the rules and get away with it. They still don’t know what they’ve done wrong. The regulations are mind-boggling.”

All five had worn face masks during a quick shopping trip after getting off the morning ferry to Isle of Man capital Douglas.

But they were arrested for breaching island rules that say key workers from the mainland must stay in their accommodation unless at work.

Just after the men reached the hotel they had booked for their two days’ work on a railway, the police arrived.

A resident had tipped them off, believing the men could not be local because they all wore masks NOT compulsory in island shops.

Helen Smith, 38, whose husband Michael, 43, and 18-year-old son Jack spent time behind bars, stormed: “They’ve been treated like serious criminals when the sensible thing was to have a word in their ear.

“It makes me so angry to think they’re in jail and yet politicians break rules and get away with it.”

Shop worker Helen told the Sunday Mirror how her husband called on Tuesday to say they had arrived safely – then didn’t hear from him again until Friday when he was in prison.

“He said they were shocked when the police turned up mob-handed at the hotel,” she said. “They put them all in handcuffs and took them to the station. Jack was really upset.

“They only wanted to get some sandwiches for their lunch the next day. What were they meant to do otherwise? Starve?”

Under Manx Covid-19 laws, only residents and those with special permission can enter the island and anyone who tests positive for the virus must self-isolate for 14 days.

The group, from Doncaster in South Yorkshire, had been given exemption certificates to work on the Manx Electric Railway between 29 September and 1 October.

Under quarantine rules, they were permitted to travel between their hotel accommodation and workplace only.

Home Affairs Minister on the island, Graham Cregeen, said the move to stop prison visiting was a “precaution” and the prison had “robust and rigorous protocols in place”.

Mr Gregeen said the prison was “fully prepared” for cases of Covid-19 and the suspension of visiting was to “reduce the already minimal risk that the virus could spread”.

“Prison officers assigned to newly-arrived inmates in self-isolation are required to wear full PPE, maintain a safe distance, and practice scrupulous hand-washing,” he added.

The government spokesman said the risk to the community was “extremely low”.

A total of 344 people have now tested positive for the virus on the island and there are currently four active cases.

A spokesman said the two newest cases were residents who developed symptoms after returning from abroad and both were self-isolating in their homes.

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