Shoplifting grandmother denies ‘coronavirus cough assault’ on security guard

2 April 2020, 20:44

Stapleton allegedly coughed at the security guard working at the B&M in the Dundas Arcade, Middlesbrough
Stapleton allegedly coughed at the security guard working at the B&M in the Dundas Arcade, Middlesbrough. Picture: Google Street View

By Tobi Akingbade

A shoplifting grandmother has denied coughing at a security guard and claiming she had coronavirus.

Leanne Stapleton, 39, appeared via videolink at Teesside Magistrates’ Court to deny a charge of assault but admitted stealing from a B&M store in Middlesbrough on March 27 during the lockdown.

It was alleged she deliberately coughed at the security guard working at the shop in the Dundas Arcade, Middlesbrough, to try to get away.

Brett Wildridge, defending, said she “categorically denied” the assault charge and did not say the words alleged.

He said she claimed to have commented to the security guard as he detained her that he should not be within two metres of her.

Mr Wildridge said she claims to have told him: “I might get corona if we go next to each other.”

Stapleton, a grandmother-of-two from Londonderry Road, Stockton, Teesside, was remanded in custody and will stand trial before the magistrates on May 6.

It comes after a man who coughed on a police officer and claimed to have coronavirus was been jailed for six months.

Adam Lewis, 55, was sentenced at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday after being convicted of an assault on an emergency worker, the Metropolitan Police said.

The case is believed to be the first jail sentence in London for a Covid-19-related assault involving a police officer.

The Met said the officer had been flagged down by a member of the public while he was on cycle patrol in Westminster at around 3.40pm on Tuesday.

The incidents happened days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson  announced strict coronavirus lockdown measures for the country.

In a TV address from inside 10 Downing Street, Mr Johnson revealed that from March 23, citizens must stay at home except to shop for food and medicine, for only one form of exercise per day, and to travel to and from essential workplaces.