Posted: Saturday, September 23, 2023. 11:01 am CST.
By Breaking Belize News Staff: In a case related to the enforcement of the State of Emergency (SOE) measures implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, a 27-year-old Belize City man, Calvin McKay, was sentenced on Friday to three years in prison. The sentence comes after McKay was unable to pay two outstanding fines for breaching curfew, a restriction in place during the SOE of 2020.
While Calvin McKay was in court for two drug-related offenses—possession of an undetermined amount of crack cocaine and possession of a pipe—he pleaded not guilty and was granted bail. However, his relief was short-lived as McKay found himself sentenced to prison on the same day, not for the new charges, but for past offenses related to SOE curfew breaches.
The Chief Magistrate reminded McKay of his two previous convictions: one from April 3, 2020, with a fine of $5,000, and another from August 28, 2020, for $2,000. At the time, the fines for SOE offenses were particularly high, a point likely to fuel ongoing discussions about the fairness of such penalties.
Because the fines were old and unpaid, McKay was ordered to settle them immediately or face prison time. He was unable to make the payment on the spot and was therefore sent to prison to a total of three years —two years for the $5,000 fine and one year for the $2,000 fine, to be served concurrently.
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