By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
As fear and uncertainty continue to mount with the novel coronavirus now in full force, so too it seems does the eccentric and offensive behaviour.
Stressful times indeed deplete people to new lows, sapping them of their cognitive abilities; all the while, anxiety has the tendency to often be expressed through bad behaviour.
In the compounding of these coronavirus emotions, it seems the human reaction to the virus has witnessed arguably some of the worst of humanity, including people fighting over toilet paper in supermarkets, hoarders monopolising supplies as the vulnerable miss out, people stealing face masks and gloves from hospitals, even people threatening each other with wine bottles at bottle shops.
Alas, in times of upheaval, it is not uncommon to slip into mad behaviour or make terrible decisions.
For one Sydney woman last week, this was certainly the case as she allegedly repeatedly spat and coughed on a New South Wales police officer during a vehicle stop in Sydney’s south west, claiming she was on her way to be tested for COVID-19.
So depraved was the 25-year-old woman’s alleged demeanour that she had to be physically restrained and was eventually taken to Bankstown Police Station.
High Speed Chase Leads to Vehicle Stop Where Woman Assaults Police Officer in Execution of Duty
On 27 March 2020, at around 5pm, it is reported that a woman driving in an Audi through Greenacre allegedly accelerated to speeds reaching over 120km/h, then failed to stop when instructed to do so by Traffic and Highway Patrol officers.
The officers were patrolling the area, which was signposted to have a speed limit of 50km/h.
The Audi carried on and was then allegedly seen disobeying a red traffic light signal at the intersection of Waterloo Road and Mimosa Road, following which the vehicle crossed unbroken lines to overtake a car.
After then allegedly ignoring stopping at a stop sign, the Audi drove into Roberts Road, finally coming to a standstill in the middle of heavy traffic.
At this point, the woman was approached by a police officer who had been following her, who placed her under arrest.
This was not enough for the 25-year-old woman to concede, who subsequently declined stepping out of the car.
The situation escalated to a point where police were forced to physically remove the woman, following which they handcuffed her.
For the woman though – who frustratedly told officers she was travelling for COVID-19 testing – the antagonism was all too much and she allegedly spat and coughed in the officer’s face.
Woman Resists Arrest; Spits in Officer’s Face a Second Time
Police officers blared warnings to the woman for her attacking behaviour, indicating it would not be tolerated.
Nevertheless, as the woman was escorted to the police vehicle, the woman continued to resist her arrest and then spat in the officer’s face a second time.
Numerous authorities were called to attend the scene and she was taken to Bankstown Police Station.
The woman was charged with several offences, including assaulting an officer in the execution of their duty, driving recklessly, speeding, and driving a motor vehicle during a disqualification period.
She was refused bail.
Meanwhile, while she was not displaying any symptoms, as a precaution, the police officer was taken to undergo COVID-19 testing.
“Not Acceptable”: Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander, Assistant Zero Tolerance to such Behaviour Towards Police
In addressing the incident, Traffic and Highway Patrol Commissioner, Michael Corboy, said the behaviour towards police was not acceptable.
“Police will not tolerate being spat at in any climate, let alone the one we’re facing right now. It’s as simple as that,” Assistant Commissioner Corboy said.
He said police officers are simply trying to do their job and go about it in a safe manner.
Social Media Users Appalled by Woman’s Assault on Police Officer
In a Facebook post shared by 7NEWS Sydney that informed of the incident, online users were unafraid to express their aversion towards learning of the woman’s behaviour.
“That police officer should receive a medal for being so restrained in his response. I think most people would have tasered her at the very least,” one user wrote.
“This is heart breaking [sic] moment, policemen are working so hard day and night for our safety and this is what they get from people in return,” another commented.
One social media user credited the officer’s perseverance, saying, “The patience shown by the police officer in this clip is to be applauded”.
Another acknowledged the impact of the coronavirus, remarking, “This virus has just brought out the real faces of the people living around us”.
The legislation dealing with the offence of assaulting police in NSW is section 60 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
Click here for a list of defences to a charge of assaulting police that can apply in a NSW Court.
There are 6 forms of this offence, each having a heavy maximum punishment available for a court to impose.
The first carries a maximum of 5-years imprisonment if you assault, stalk, harass, intimidate or throw a missile at a police officer who was acting in the execution of his/her duty where no actual bodily harm was caused.
Actual bodily harm can include scratches or bruising.
The second carries a maximum of 7-year imprisonment if this occurs during a public disorder.
The third also carries a maximum of 7-year imprisonment if you assault a police officer while in the execution of his/her duty, and it causes the officer actual bodily harm.
The fourth carries a maximum of 9-years imprisonment if this occurs during a public disorder.
The fifth carries a maximum penalty of 12-years imprisonment if you wound or cause grievous bodily harm (GBH) to a police officer acting in the execution of his/her duty, if you had realised the possibility of causing actual bodily harm at the time.
The sixth carries a maximum penalty of 14-years imprisonment if you do this during a public disorder.
Even if the police officer was not on duty at the time, that office can still be considered to be acting in the execution of the duty of a police officer if he/she ends up taking on that role while off-duty.
It is quite common for this kind of behaviour to take place where a person is being arrested or where they feel threatened.
Due to this, it is not unusual to hear of a person getting charged for assaulting police even if only due to minimal contact with a police officer.
Questions? Call our Sydney criminal lawyers today.