Sun | Dec 3, 2023

Pastor fined $300,000 for COVID breaches

Published:Wednesday | May 5, 2021 | 12:32 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer

The St Ann pastor who put up stern resistance to the police lockdown of a church service in breach of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) pleaded guilty when she appeared in the St Ann Parish Court on Tuesday.

Christene McLean, who pastors the City of Refuge Endtime Prophetic Ministries church in Windsor, St Ann’s Bay, was fined $150,000 on each count, in addition to being fined $15,000 for disorderly conduct, for a total of $315,000.

Two co-accused, Phillipa Gordon and Winston McKoy, also pleaded guilty to two breaches under the DRMA and were similarly fined a total of $300,000.

All three were given two months to pay the fine or spend six months in jail.

The three were arrested on March 3 after police visited the church and saw more than 50 congregants in attendance, which was in breach of the coronavirus legislation, which at the time stipulated that no more than 10 persons should attend church.

The police reported that McLean and several of the congregants were not wearing masks, and despite being given time to end the service and disperse, they persisted with the ritual.

Allegations are that on March 2, about 12:50 p.m., the police went to the City of Refuge Endtime Prophetic Ministries church where a service was in session. It was observed that more than 60 worshippers were in attendance, which breached the DRMA’s gathering limit.

McLean, Gordon, and McKoy were taken to the police station where they were charged.

As the charges were being read, Parish Judge Vaughn Facey interrupted the clerk to ask if the case before him was the incident highlighted on TVJ news at the time. This was confirmed by the clerk.

“To say the least, what I saw was not too pleasant,” the judge remarked.

The judge pointed out that McLean could be fined up to $1 million but levied the charge of $300,000 for both counts.

He reminded the pastor that while there is divine law, the orders of the State should also be observed.