BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Seventeen locals were jailed on Saturday after they were caught having a drug and alcohol-fueled party amid government-imposed restrictions on social gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After pleading guilty on Wednesday, the defendants were convicted of committing an act likely to cause the spread of infectious disease. Several members of the group were also convicted of possession of cannabis and ecstasy, as well as drug utensils.
The defendants received custodial sentences ranging between two to four months.
Three minors who were also present at the party will be sentenced in Juvenile Court on June 17.
According to court documents, the party took place at Aman Hills Hotel on the evening of April 4 until the early hours of April 5. The hotel was a designated COVID-19 monitoring centre for people issued a self-isolation notice from the Ministry of Health.
Two policemen were patrolling the area when they heard loud noises coming from one of the hotel rooms on the fourth floor. When they entered the room, the partygoers panicked and tried to escape by jumping down to the balcony on the floor below.
After they were apprehended, police discovered cannabis, ecstasy, empty whisky bottles and drug paraphernalia in the hotel room.
In her judgment, Acting Senior Magistrate Pg Hazirah Pg Mohd Yusof said the defendants blatantly ignored government advice on social gatherings, and the circumstances were aggravated by the presence of illegal substances and underage minors.
She added that a deterrent custodial sentence was warranted due to the strong public interest in the case.
The senior magistrate said the offence was committed during a time when the COVID-19 outbreak was at its peak domestically, and public anxiety over the pandemic was high.
The prosecution also highlighted that five of the defendants were uniformed personnel.
Pg Hazirah said the “negligence and recklessness” shown by the group endangered their own lives, as well as others, by socialising with strangers “that could likely be positive for COVID-19”, and by sharing drug utensils.
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