A 66-year-old granny from Co. Cork has been sent to jail for 10 days for the repeated and indiscrimate non wearing of masks in public settings.
Margaret Buttimer from Bandon who appeared before Bandon District Court told presiding judge Colm Roberts that she isn’t sure if the virus exists or if face coverings protect against Covid.
The 66-year-old reportedly began shopping without a face mask in defiance of the Covid 19 restrictions amid the onset of the global pandemic. She told a shop manager who has reproached her once that she was only answerable to God.
Gardaí were called to Dunnes Stores in Clonakilty, Co Cork, on December 6th. Ms Buttimer refused to wear a mask when approached by security staff and would not leave the store.
Ms Buttimer told Judge Roberts she felt the wearing of a mask should be a personal decision.
The Judge asked Ms Buttimer why her beliefs took supremacy over the welfare of others. Ms Buttimer replied she wasn’t sure if wearing a mask protected her from the virus.
‘I am not a scientist.’
“I keep my distance [from people] if possible. I just think it [a mask] doesn’t work for a virus. They are a disappointment. I don’t know [if Covid exists].”
Judge Roberts said he had no option but to convict Ms Buttimer. Judge Roberts said that while he regretted having to impose a custodial sentence it was important to send out a message from the courts about the necessity for people to obey the public health restrictions.
Her soliticor stressed Ms Buttimer’s loved ones were increasingly concerned about her memory. He also said his client had borderline line responses and ability to absorb information.
However, Judge Roberts said Ms Buttimer had been assessed by two professionals who hadn’t been able to make any definitive diagnosis about her condition.
Judge Roberts imposed a 30-day prison sentence but suspended the last 10 days. He also backdated the sentence to last Monday when Ms Buttimer first entered custody. Ms Buttimer will effectively serve six days in custody.
He pleaded with Ms Buttimer to reconsider her position while in custody. “You can have your beliefs but they can’t be to the detriment of human life.”