A woman who was convicted of intentionally coughing on a grocery store worker in 2020 has had their conviction quashed, after a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled the trial judge erred in not allowing a character witness.
Because the woman has served six months of her 18-month probation, the B.C. Supreme Court judge decided to not hold a retrial, and instead enter an acquittal verdict despite “a reasonable possibility of convictions on a retrial.”
In April 2023, Kimberly Woolman was found guilty of one count of causing a disturbance and two counts of assault for an incident in a Save On Foods in Campbell River.
Woolman was found to have entered the grocery store in April 2020 and shouted about how COVID isn’t real when confronted with the store’s pandemic procedures. When employees attempted to remove her from the store, she forcibly coughed in the face of a supervisor. She then pushed a shopping cart into another employee.
Justice Douglas Thompson notes in the trial that the Crown’s case included evidence from the two assault complainants, three other store employees and some video recordings.
Woolman was briefly represented by a lawyer, then discharged the lawyer and self-represented after that point. Shortly after dispelling her legal counsel, she advised she wanted to call a character witness.
Crown counsel said the character witness would be irrelevant, and the judge ruled against admissibility.
Thompson found the judge erred in this, stating a character witness could have testified whether she was a peaceable person, whether she was shouting and whether the applications of force in the assault charges were intentional.