By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
Attention, readers! This post comes with a *CODE BROWN ALERT*.
That’s right – poo’s in the news once again and this time it comes amid the horror and hype of the unique Coronavirus times that we find ourselves in.
Indeed, the population at large has proven that strange, panic-induced behaviour really is a thing.
Take panic-buying, for example, especially in considering the way terror of what’s to come has created an unparalleled need for toilet paper.
But amongst that all, there may be a different kind of panic-related behaviour brewing, namely that of panic-pooing in public – a performance which is more formally referred to as offensive conduct.
Clean Up in Aisle Poo: Mother and Daughter Left “Disgusted” After Finding Poo in Aisle at Woolworths
As if the Coronavirus-induced panic-buying wasn’t copious or stressful enough, last week, it was reported that amongst the shopping chaos that we are now all familiar with, a woman and her mother were horrified to discover a poo on the ground at a Woolworths supermarket in Victoria.
Worryingly, the poo was still there five hours later.
At around 3:30pm on 10 March 2020, Hayley Thomson and her mother were shopping at Woolworths in the Geelong suburb of Corio when they stumbled across the repulsive brown mass.
It lay intact underneath shelves, ironically in the cleaning products aisle, all while staff members around it continued to re-stock freezers in the adjoining lane.
Speaking to 10 Daily, Ms Thompson expressed her displeasure over the incident.
“No one had cleaned it up and they didn’t seem too worried about it,” Ms Thomson claimed.
“Mind you there was a whole team stocking the freezers in the aisle next to where the incident had happened.”
Ms Thomson and her mother reported the offensive incident to staff and left.
8:40pm: Poo Still Sitting in Aisle Five
Sadly, that wasn’t the end of the damp discovery.
That night at around 8:40pm, the pair returned to the shop and much to their horror, found the dark deposit still sitting there on the ground.
The realisation left them feeling “disgusted”, 10 Daily reported.
Shocked, Ms Thomson snapped a photo of the poo along with footage of the encounter, the situation exacerbating in the fact that various public bathrooms are available throughout the Corio Village shopping complex.
Woolworths Apologises to Customers and Staff Over the Offensive Conduct
While store staff claim they were not made aware of any complaints from customers regarding the faecal matter, Woolworths nevertheless apologised to its customers and staff over the incident.
“This type of behaviour is plainly unacceptable and we feel sorry for those customers and team members who were exposed to it,” a spokesman told Daily Mail Australia.
“As soon as our store management became aware of the incident, we moved to quickly conduct a thorough clean of the area.”
Want to know more on this topic of law? Call our criminal lawyers in Parramatta today.
No Can Poo: Law on Offensive Conduct
Amid the chaos of the Coronavirus pandemic, there’s no denying that the associated stress is likely to change our behaviour in many ways, making us do all kinds of strange things.
Indeed, as we have all witnessed – and no doubt participated in – panic-buying is just one of those behaviours.
Nevertheless, even if the virus anxiety induces panic-pooing, emptying your bowels in public is considered a form of offensive demeanour and can leave you facing some steamy fines.
In NSW, offensive conduct is understood as an across-the-board offence that is usually charged when it is difficult for police to prosecute a more specific offence. It’s a crime that is prosecuted frequently, but one that can be done by way of an on-the-spot fine by police.
Generally speaking, this charge ranges from offences like verbal abuse to conduct that is “anti-social”, which can also include being drunk and disorderly.
While some people may find the act of pooing in public amusing, it is considered offensive because many people are, in fact, deeply offended by it, as per contemporary social standards.
Where an on-the-spot fine is issued by police, the case concludes without the need to attend court, nor a criminal record if the fine is paid.
Court attendance would otherwise be required if ‘court electing’ the penalty notice. This will allow the court to impose heavier penalties with a criminal conviction, maximum fine of $660 or 3-month jail, or both under section 4 Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW).
There will be no criminal conviction if the court imposes a non-conviction sentence under section 10.
Section 4 makes clear that a person must not conduct himself or herself in an offensive manner in or near, or within view or hearing from, a public place or a school.
Additionally, a person does not conduct himself or herself in an offensive manner merely by using offensive language.
So, what does the law consider ‘offensive conduct’? essentially, this is conduct that will would the feelings, or arouse anger, disgust, resentment or outrage in the mind of a reasonable person (being isn’t considered to be thin-skinned).
Exceptions or defences to this include expressions of political view or self-defence.
Have a question? Contact our team of Sydney based criminal lawyers today.