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Judge overturns convictions of B.C. woman accused of coughing on grocery worker

Customer accused of deliberately coughing in the direction of a Save-On-Foods employee in the early days of the pandemic
2/12/2024
save on foods
Incident took place in April 2020 at a Save-On-Foods store in Campbell River, B.C.

A British Columbia woman who was accused of deliberately coughing in the direction of a grocery store worker early in the COVID-19 pandemic has had her convictions for assault and causing a disturbance overturned.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled on Thursday (Feb. 8) that Kimberly Woolman should have been allowed to call a character witness in her 2022 trial.

The original trial heard testimony that Woolman was at a Save-On-Foods store in Campbell River, B.C., in April 2020 when she refused to follow rules requiring customers to keep six feet apart.

A Provincial Court judge ruled last year that Woolman "forcibly coughed" towards an employee's face after being told to leave, then pushed her shopping cart into another worker. 

Supreme Court Justice Douglas Thompson says in his appeal ruling that allowing a character witness could have influenced the court's opinion on whether Woolman was shouting and whether there was an intentional application of force.

He says cases like this would normally be retried, but because Woolman has already served about a third of her 18-month probation order he was using his discretion to dismiss the convictions instead.

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