4 September 2022

Woman sentenced for coughing on retail staff at start of COVID-19 pandemic

| Albert McKnight
ACT Magistrates Court

Amanda Lee Brown, 40, has been sentenced on two counts of common assault. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A woman has been sentenced for coughing on a Rebel Sports staff member at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in what a prosecutor said was a “disgusting act”.

Amanda Lee Brown went into the store on 29 March 2020, which was the same month Australia closed its borders due to the pandemic, and became aggressive with staff.

She coughed on one staff member, then threw clothes and a clothes hanger at another 17-year-old staff member, Magistrate James Lawton said.

The 40-year-old pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and spent about two months in custody before appearing in the ACT Magistrates Court to be sentenced on Wednesday (31 August).

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Her lawyer, Brandon Bodel from Andrew Byrnes Law Group, said his client had gone to the store and was just attempting to try on clothes when she became offended because staff were hovering around her.

She had a “blow up” with staff, he said, during which she felt moisture on her face so coughed in the direction of an employee.

Magistrate Lawton noted the assaults were serious and involved attacking retail salespeople at their place of work. They were “in no way justified”, he said.

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He said Brown had a fairly significant criminal history, but appeared to be committed to reforming her ways.

She was convicted on the assaults, as well as on theft and driving-related charges, and handed a three-month suspended jail sentence, backdated to when she was taken into custody on 12 July and suspended from Wednesday. She was also given a good behaviour order of about 13 months.

Brown was then granted bail over other, unrelated charges.

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