Gran, 39, denies coughing at security guard after being caught shoplifting

A shoplifting grandmother has pleaded not guilty to coughing at a security guard and claiming she had coronavirus.

Leanne Stapleton, 39, appeared via videolink at Teesside Magistrates’
Court today to deny a charge of assault.

But she did admit stealing from a B&M store in Middlesbrough last Friday during the Covid-19 lockdown.

It was alleged she deliberately coughed at the security guard working
at the shop in the Dundas Arcade 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 was
remanded in custody and will stand trial before the magistrates on May

The accusations come after a number of incidents where critical and NHS workers have been spat at or coughed at during the coronavirus crisis.

An aggressive troublemaker was given a 20-week prison sentence yesterday for biting and spitting at two police officers before telling them that he had coronavirus.

Marc Olley, 36, was flanked by security guards wearing goggles, face masks, surgical gloves and plastic aprons as he was jailed at Grimsby Crown Court for the attack, which happened on Saturday.

Magistrates heard police were called to a domestic disturbance between him and his ex-girlfriend when he became aggressive.

He was dragged to the ground, which was when he bit their fingers and said he was infected with Covid-19.

He then spat, but missed. He then told them: ‘If your face was down here, I would spit right in your face.’

And a Brighton man was jailed for 12 weeks after he spat at three police officers while claiming to be infected with coronavirus.

Police were responding to a report of criminal damage at a block of flats in Albion Street at about 5.50pm on Saturday when they were repeatedly spat at by Peter Davy, 65.

Davy admitted assaulting three emergency workers while using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear or violence and to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

He was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

Divisional Commander for Brighton and Hove, Nick May said: ‘This is an appalling act by this defendant, against officers simply doing their job of protecting the public.

‘The fact that he spat at the officers is bad enough but to then claim to have Covid-19, makes the behaviour even more despicable. Being assaulted is not part of the job.

‘I very much welcome the sentencing of the court as it acknowledges the severity of this case.’