NI director jailed for a month in Isle of Man over bus trip to see locksmith
A BELFAST businesswoman jailed for a month on the Isle of Man for breaking quarantine rules has lashed out at her prosecution.
Fraser Nolan, who owns Fraser Nolan Shutters Ltd, a blinds company based on Belfast’s Lisburn Road, was caged on the island in August last year.
She was given special permission to visit the Isle of Man to take care of her late mother’s estate.
But the 61-year-old company director ended up behind bars after going on a bus journey to visit a locksmith.
Now back in Northern Ireland, Mrs Nolan has bemoaned her prosecution and attacked the news media.
She claimed she had been thrown in jail despite others on the island failing to follow the rules.
Mrs Nolan pointed to an investigation into the government-run Isle of Man Steam Packet Company over ferry staff failing to self-isolate as evidence her conviction was unfair.
She said: “There was a case in relation to people that were jailed because there were people working on the boats, which the government owns, who were known to be not self-isolating for a full year. Nothing was done about that. I was sent some information about it by a whistleblower.
"I haven’t appealed or done anything in relation to my case yet, but there are a number of people like me who justifiably feel we were just put in prison whenever it was quite clear there were people running about the island who were not self-isolating.
“It’s like there is one rule for some people and another rule for others. That’s the bottom line.”
No action was taken against the ferry operator following a probe into a Covid cluster caused by a crew member.
Isle of Man Chief Minister Howard Quayle said it had been a “misunderstanding” and no action would follow despite more than 40 cases being linked to the member of staff.
But Mrs Nolan told Sunday Life: “I’ve a lot I could say, but the media isn’t really reporting anything. I don’t think journalists are reporting anything properly at the moment.
“It seems to be a slant towards the government line all the time.”
Mrs Nolan (below), who is originally from Cookstown, Co Tyrone, but now lives on Belfast’s Osborne Drive, arrived on the Isle of Man by ferry on August 16 last year.
In line with strict Covid-19 rules for non-residents, she agreed to isolate for 14 days at the empty family home in Castletown on the south of the island.
Two days later, she breached the regulations by travelling around 10 miles to visit a locksmith in Douglas.
She was reported to police via an anonymous tip-off, with officers going to her house, which they found empty, before contacting her on her mobile and arresting her when she returned to the property.
A court heard Mrs Nolan, the wife of a solicitor, accepted she had “taken a chance” by making the journey, which was described as a “very silly mistake”.
She had reportedly wanted advice on opening a safe containing documents relating to her mother’s will.
During her sentencing on August 19 last year, magistrates said her trip to the locksmith had “no real urgency” and had “put many people at risk”.
Lawyers for Mrs Nolan pleaded for a suspended sentence, saying she had not read the details of coronavirus regulations and was unaware of the penalties that could be issued.
A spokesperson for the Isle of Man courts service listed her charges as including a failure to comply with a direction under the Emergency Powers (Potentially Infectious Persons) Regulations 2020 between August 16 and August 31 of that year.
They added all rule breakers were taken immediately to a prison located in the northern parish of Jurby.
Nicknamed ‘Jurby’s Hilton’, the mixed-use facility was featured in an ITV documentary last year called The Best Little Prison in Britain?
It houses around 120 prisoners and has nearly as many staff members.
All inmates are said to have their own cells and are reportedly allowed to leave them for seven hours a day.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, visitors to the Isle of Man have been given an exemption certificate.
Failure to comply with the island’s strict rules can result in a fine of up to £10,000 or three months in prison.
Fraser Nolan Shutters, which Mrs Nolan owns a controlling stake in, was established in 2002.
It claims to offer the “best-quality shutters” and “guarantees unparalleled experience in design and installation”.