A Vancouver Island woman found guilty of assault for coughing on a grocery store worker in Campbell River in 2020 has been sentenced to 18 months of probation.
Earlier this year, Campbell River woman Kimberly Woolman was found guilty of causing a disturbance in a public place, as well as two counts of assault, one against store worker Jacqueline Poulton for coughing on her, and another for ramming employee Gordon Dawson with a grocery cart.
The assaults stem from an incident in April 2020, when Woolman went to the Save On Foods in Campbell River.
Due to COVID-19 health regulations at the time, Poulton told Woolman that she had to stay at least six feet apart from other shoppers, and that there was a limit on how many people could be in the store at once.
Woolman responded aggressively, saying that COVID-19 was fake, along with other expletives, and eventually coughed in Poulton’s face.
A total of five employees eventually had to escort Woolman out of the store, including Dawson, who was shoved with the grocery cart.
On April 13, B.C. Judge Barbara Flewelling found Woolman guilty of two counts of assault and one count of causing a disturbance in a public place.
In a sentencing decision released on July 19, Flewelling sentenced Woolman to 18 months of probation for the three charges.
The Crown initially called for 18 months probation and a $1,000 fine, but Woolman told the courts she was on a limited income and was unable to pay the fine.
Flewelling said the sentence was intended to deter others from flaunting public health orders, while also considering Woolman’s ability to pay a fine.
“It needs to be brought home to Ms. Woolman and others who are like-minded, that our laws, including public health orders and the Criminal Code, apply to everyone,” wrote Flewelling in her decision.
“Ms. Woolman assaulted two front line workers and caused a disturbance in the Save On Foods store that day because she didn’t want to follow a public health order that she maintain a distance of six feet from other people,” she wrote.
“It was far from an onerous law to follow. Her actions were intentional and her moral blameworthiness is high,” wrote Flewelling.
The 18-month probation includes a ban on visiting the Save On Foods location in Campbell River, as well as having no contact with Poulton, and a requirement to not go anywhere where Poulton works, lives, attends school, worships or “happens to be.”
“If you see her, you must leave her presence immediately without any words or gestures,” the decision reads.
Woolman must also “keep the peace and be of good behaviour,” attend court if ordered to do so, and notify the court and her probation officer if there’s any changes to her address, name, or employment.