back to article Cops charge prankster who 'corona-coughed' on aged officer and had it filmed

Police have charged an Australian moron who coughed on a copper in Coffs Harbour and claimed he was suffering from COVID-19. It gets worse: the woman police officer was 71 years old, and therefore rather at risk if the coronavirus-infection claim was true. And worse still: while the 21-year-old cretin coughed, a friend filmed …

  1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Idiot

    Through the book at him, if you have thumb the law books to find charges put him away until he is a ripe old age.

    1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      Re: Idiot

      This is Australia.

      Any hack of a lawyer can get the cretin released with a slap-on-the-wrist (and maybe a AU$100 fine) even when this fut-nuck deserves time in jail.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Idiot

        And any cop can use the "I thought he was a dangerous Aborigine attempting to escape" and empty 2-3 clips into his back at close range.

        Sometimes the sneaky criminals even try to face the officer shooting them while they run away and shield themselves with their arms. So sneaky.

        Or have things moved on as Australian society has being more multicultural so that Aussie cops avoid guns now and just stick to a good old fashioned shoeing in a police cell?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Idiot

          Too much reality or people just aren't aware of Aborigine deaths in custody in Australia?

          https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/aug/28/the-147-dead-indigenous-leaders-demand-action-over-unacceptable-deaths-in-custody

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Idiot

            Please go ahead and inform us where a police officer in Australia shot an Aboriginal in the back...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Idiot

            Also I note the story of one Constable Rolfe - who shot and killed in self-defence an indigenous man who had attacked and stabbed both he and his partner.

            For his troubles in defending himself he was charged with murder by the very police force he serves.

            https://www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/was-constable-rolfe-charged-with-being-white/news-story/f8f539cea0e5d040238d674a4abaa839

            Which begs the question, if the attacker was a white bogan, would Constable Rolfe had been charged with even manslaughter? I think we all know what the answer is.

            There is no doubt there is a history of atrocity in the early colonial period, however, please show me the part of the world that was rainbows and unicorns in 1788.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re:This is Australia

        not at all, this is stupidity, it's is universal. There was a similar case in Russia (a guy "advertised" his services to get rid of business rivals). There was vandalism (delivery vans burnt) by youngsters in N. Ireland, right after the latest "stay at home", help save lives, etc. from Boris. I'm sure media have similar stories from around the globe. After all, media desperately want to "stay relevant", thus attractive, thus stories pulled out of the backside, to share the indignation (and clicks). Uh-uh...

        1. Bernard M. Orwell

          Re: Re:This is Australia

          Yep, its universal. We've had reports of our local neds joining the queues for the early-morning shopping slot reserved for OAPs then spitting on or coughing on everyone they can.

          South Wales, UK.

          1. BebopWeBop

            Re: Re:This is Australia

            And Ireland.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Re:This is Australia

            And Hertfordshire.

    2. Old Used Programmer Silver badge

      Re: Idiot

      Until 71 would be a good age. Same age as the cop he pranked.

    3. Zoopy

      Re: Idiot

      Let's treat this like a "reverse mortgage". He dies whenever she dies.

      (Not serious. But they should take whatever steps are necessary for him and his accomplice to never seriously contemplate doing this kind of thing again.)

      1. Mark192

        Re: Idiot

        Guessing after the arrest etc he's already decided that, on balance, it's probably not worth doing again.

        Saying that, he probably still feels like he is the victim in this.

        1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

          Re: Idiot

          it's probably not worth doing again

          Why stop? He's made a name for himself (of being a jack@$$).

          I am sure his parents, who's invested hundreds of thousands of dollars for his education, are "proud" of his achievement. </sarcasm>

          Once a bogan, always a bogan.

      2. Fungus Bob

        Re: Idiot

        Denying him any sort of priority if he gets sick with anything from COVID-19 to explosive diarrhea seems reasonable. Treat the sensible people first.

    4. Twanky Silver badge

      Re: Idiot

      I agree he and his accomplice are idiots. Trouble is the world does not have capacity to treat every idiot as they deserve. For that matter it's probably just as well; knee-jerk reactions can be over-reactions.

      I quite like that they charged this prat with 'stalking with intent to cause fear or physical harm' - good use of existing laws. It could have gone a lot worse for him if the cops had simply identified him on 'social' media (accidental, honest, we were short of staff at the time) and released him into the 'care' of the other idiots.

    5. big_D Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Idiot

      I think hitting him with the law books will do some nice damage on its own. Have you seen how thick they are?

      Mine's the one with the extra large pocket for the law book.

    6. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Idiot

      Since he claimed to have the virus he should have been quarantine on an offshore island alone, where, with luck, he would be forgotten about while the rest of the World got on with more important things than an aberrant arsehole.

      1. Fred Dibnah

        Re: Idiot

        Quarantining him in a cell, alone in the closed police station, for a week would have been effective.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Idiot

        "Since he claimed to have the virus he should have been quarantine on an offshore island alone, where, with luck, he would be forgotten about while the rest of the World got on with more important things than an aberrant arsehole."

        Isn't that pretty much how Australia was born?

    7. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Idiot

      I cannot believe so many people in here are taking this stance. There are two obvious problems with such an... inventive...use of stalking laws to charge someone who coughs.

      1) The further erosion of equality in front of the law. Since the charge is obviously ridiculous (unless this 21-year old really is a stalker) if he can afford to hire any half-decent lawyer it will be thrown out and possibly a malicious prosecution countersuit filed. If he's poor, he's going to jail.

      2) Normally we are against twisting the law to make someone into a criminal who performs an act that the government doesn't like. If you want to be consistent then you should probably take this approach even when the person does something you don't particularly like either. Cheering the government on when it overreaches on your behalf makes it a lot hard to accuse them when it does it in other circumstances.

      1. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: Idiot

        There's precedent in other countries for knowingly transmitting a disease to be a form of bodily harm (prominently HIV cases). I'm not familiar with the law in Australia, but threatening people with bodily harm is likely also a crime, he's guilty of something. This isn't a twisting of any normal principle, does it matter whether I shot you or injected you with a syringe of ebola? What about threw acid at you? What if I threaten to throw acid at you but it turns out to be water?

        What I'm a bit surprised at is a 71 year old police officer, in the UK they mostly retire before the national pension age.

        1. BebopWeBop

          Re: Idiot

          An ex-colleague was stabbed by a mugger with a hypodermic in Edinburgh some years ago and spent an extremely nervous year. So yes, prosecuting someone for knowingly causing fear seems to be quite proportionate.

          1. Jason Bloomberg

            Re: Idiot

            prosecuting someone for knowingly causing fear seems to be quite proportionate.

            I don't think anyone disagrees with that. DavCrav's point is simply 'don't make some shit charge up' in the process of doing it. That merely opens doors to someone deserving punishment dodging any.

            He "done wrong" but how's that "stalking"? It seems to fail the very basics of what "stalking" involves, and that likely includes premeditation and repeated behaviour.

            In the UK it appears such incidents are being treated as GBH which look to me to be proportionate. Leave it to the judge or jury to decide whether his behaviour and any remorse deserves punishment at the lighter or harder extremes of punishment.

            1. DavCrav Silver badge

              Re: Idiot

              "In the UK it appears such incidents are being treated as GBH which look to me to be proportionate"

              I believe the police today said "assault against an emergency service worker" would be the charge, which carries a two-year maximum tariff. This seems an appropriate charge. Stalking, let's be honest, does not.

            2. LucreLout

              Re: Idiot

              In the UK it appears such incidents are being treated as GBH

              The problem is our piss-weak CPS will bottle it and go for section 21 rather than section 18. Meaning the scrote will be back on the streets by tea time.

              Given that offense is apparently to be held in the eye of the beholder, so should intent be held in the eyes of the victim.

            3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Idiot

              "Stalking" here is being used as a term of art, not in its common sense. There's no point in discussing whether the charge makes sense until we know precisely how the law in the governing jurisdiction defines that term.

              Some years ago, a man in California was charged with lynching himself - because in California, the law defined "lynching" as the forcible removal of someone from custody by a mob. The accused was arrested, and as officers were leading him to their car, he shouted out for help and incited a small riot, which ended with him escaping (briefly). So under the law (at the time - it's since been changed) he had participated in lynching himself. That's certainly not the common meaning of lynching. [Details can be found in Kevin Underhill's blog.]

      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Idiot

        So somebody that intentionally follows someone and commits some sort of innocuous action knowing that it will cause distress is perfectly fine?

        Dialling a wrong number is fine, dialing a wrong number and silently listening to whoever picks up quickly becomes a different matter.

        Intent counts for alot in the eyes of the law.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Idiot

        @DavCrav

        The title says it all

        Cheers… Ishy

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Idiot

          Charge them with something appropriate, sure. But distorting the law in order to fit up someone you don't like is a serious problem. If you don't have 'assault on an emergency worker' on your statute books, that seems a problem in and of itself.

          1. LucreLout

            Re: Idiot

            assault on an emergency worker

            Why is assaulting an "emergency worker" worse than assaulting your granny or your child? Its the same thing so should hold the same charges and penalties.

    8. LucreLout

      Re: Idiot

      Through the book at him

      Yes, but also recognise he is going to continue to be a danger to others, and that there is a solution to this.

      He puts others at risk because he doesn't know if he has the virus or not, so lets give it to him, that way we can be fairly sure he doesn't have it again. I realize the virus may mutate, but that just means we'll have to give that one to him too.

  2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    the relevant government minister falsely claimed it had been the victim of a distributed denial-of-service attack before reversing that stance within two hours.

    I do hope the website is not being managed by IBM.

    1. the Jim bloke Silver badge

      There's lots of stuff in Australia not being managed by IBM, even though they are being paid for it...

    2. Twanky Silver badge

      the relevant government minister falsely claimed it had been the victim of a distributed denial-of-service attack before reversing that stance within two hours.

      It can be difficult to distinguish between a sudden surge of genuine users and a DDOS - they can both knock the service offline. I don't expect a government minister to be able to tell the difference. However, a minister making any definitive statement before the facts are in is being a prat and asking for worse trouble.

  3. PhilipN Silver badge

    “Curl up and dye”

    That’s either the best, or the worst, I have heard all year. Probably both.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: “Curl up and dye”

      Have you watched The Blues Brothers lately?

    2. batfink Silver badge

      Re: “Curl up and dye”

      I'm not surprised that they've extended the time. It's going to take some while to cut somebody's hair from a distance of six feet.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: “Curl up and dye”

        Did my hair at home at the weekend with my beard and hair trimmer... A 5mm length stripe up the middle and then cut the rest to fit.

        1. BebopWeBop

          Re: “Curl up and dye”

          May I commend https://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/lifestyle/woman-lasts-three-days-in-lockdown-before-deciding-to-cut-her-own-hair-20200326194874

          Sorry for the URL but I hate trusting other 'shorteners' that hide the address on principle.

  4. Mark192

    The professionalisation of Management

    IT bod: Boss, we're gonna need more capacity, pronto - we'll have a tidal wave of claims and we won't be able to handle it.

    Manager: I just collect stats and manage annual leave requests and absences due to sickness. I've never done the job so I've no idea of what's needed and why, despite being paid considerably more than you... I'll gently query this with my manager at the next meeting and get fobbed off.

    Manager's manager: I just collate the stats that the other managers give me and forward emails from head office. I've no idea what this guy is talking about but he doesn't seem worried... I'll adopt a wait and see approach...

    Tidal wave: Hits.

    1. AndyS

      Re: The professionalisation of Management

      I see you've worked in the same company as me.

      And I'm in Engineering, not IT.

    2. Fatman

      Re: The professionalisation of Management

      You forgot:

      "Expect a larger bonus for dealing with this unanticipated surge in users."

  5. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Meh

    Presumably when Australian governments have a recruitment drive for police and security people they poster the retirement homes.

  6. ghp

    "The idiocy took place in Coffs Harbour". Where else?

  7. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. G Watty What?

      I don't get it

      I've read this a few times now. I've tried combining the letters you capitalised, reading the lines in reverse and yet still I'm flummoxed as to what you're trying to say.

      I'll just assume you slipped on the keyboard and this came out. Happens to the best of us.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: I don't get it

        I'd guess either a black marketeer, or a close friend of a Nigerian prince. Either way, best to ignore.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I don't get it

          Wait...you think ElReg forums get spam? And it makes less sense than what the commentards already say?

        2. DJV Silver badge

          Re: I don't get it

          Absolutely, the fact that clicking on the poster's name shows that this is the only post on El Reg that they have ever made is a bit of a giveaway as well.

          As an aside, I was talking to one of my website clients a couple of days ago. They sell shed, greenhouses and summerhouses. Some of their summerhouse stock comes from China and they've been gifted some packs of facemasks from the Chinese suppliers! Strange times!

          1. BebopWeBop
            Headmaster

            Re: I don't get it

            That is customer service......

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "the woman police officer was 71 years old"

    And she was still working ?

    What kind of barbaric country requires people to work when they should be retired ?

    And nobody thought that sending her home in these times would be a good thing to do ?

    Barbarians.

    1. Negative Charlie

      Re: "the woman police officer was 71 years old"

      > What kind of barbaric country requires people to work when they should be retired ?

      What kind of barbaric country requires people to retire when they want to work?

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: "the woman police officer was 71 years old"

        Over 70. At high risk. Stay home.

        Working till over 70, fine, if it's her choice. But not now.

    2. Fatman

      Re: "the woman police officer was 71 years old"

      <quote>What kind of barbaric country requires people to work when they should be retired ?</quote>

      Many of the school grossing guards in my area are older, and likely semi-retired people.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: "the woman police officer was 71 years old"

        And school exam invigilators. Often retired school staff who come back to supplement the pension and find an escape from Homes Under the Hammer for a few weeks a year.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He might be an asymptomatic carrier.

    I wonder if they could get attempted murder to stick on that basis. Or a charge based on recklessly endangering life at least.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Didn't the article say he was tested? If so, his antigen count for SARS-Cov-2 must be too low for the test to be positive, right? (I haven't actually looked into the details for the test - maybe it tests viral load, rather than antigens.) That suggests he can't be an asymptomatic carrier, within the accuracy of the test.

  10. The Central Scrutinizer

    Yeah well, our federal government is known for its high level of technical acumen.... not.

    Who could possibly, possibly, possibly have foreseen that hundrrds of thousands of people would be rushing the Centrelink website after they'd lost their jobs?

    Stuart Robert should be sent into permanent social isolation. He is unfit for purpose.

  11. Commswonk

    Dutch Courage Required

    From the article: And the nation's government today revised its restrictions on having a haircut. Previously patrons in need of a trim were limited to 30-minute visits.

    And the UK restrictions came in just as I was considering having a haircut; the sort that takes about 3 minutes never mind 30. I have since bought a set of barbers' hair trimmers but the thought of letting Mrs Commswonk loose with them on my hair makes my blood run cold. She has a well - developed malicious streak. :(

    A stiff drink or six* may be required before I take the risk.

    * For me, that is, not Mrs Commswonk.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Dutch Courage Required

      "A stiff drink or six* may be required before I take the risk."

      Fortunately for me, Mrs Brown used to be a hair dresser about 40 years ago and has been cutting my hair for many years now. I trust her implicitly and would never say a bad word about her. Luckily I no longer have to go out in public.

      1. Anguilla
        Thumb Up

        HK$ 60 - haircut for life!

        Here in Hong Kong, many years ago, I used to sit - in very close proximity to the crowded sidewalks of Aplui Street in Sham Shui Po - to get a HK$40 {about 4 UK Quid} haircut from an aged crone.

        But when progress wiped out her stall, or old age carried her away, I then invested in a ~HK$60 package of rechargeable haircutter & ancillary attachments in the aforementioned Aplui Street, but after some years of use, I had to crack open the casing to replace the rechargeable batteries.

        It is still going strong, and every 4 weeks or so, my 'pina domestic helper does an excellent job of making my head look "good" again.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Dutch Courage Required

      I understand many people are sensitive about this sort of thing - and I think no less of them for it; we all have our personal concerns - but I, for one, wouldn't be worried if I got an unfortunate home trim. Particularly when I'm not supposed to be in public anyway. Frankly, it would probably bother my wife more than me.

      These days, when my hair provides only marginal protection from sun and rain anyway, I don't much care what happens to it.

  12. Terry 6 Silver badge

    hait cut and social distancing

    Either they have very long arms in Oz or very long hair. >2m

    1. juliansh

      Re: hait cut and social distancing

      and if it's the latter they will still have long hair afterwards

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: hait cut and social distancing

        Just <2m and an arm's worth.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: hait cut and social distancing

      You seem to have neglected the possibility of very long scissors.

  13. Lazlo Woodbine

    Shame there's no offence of "Being a complete dickhead" on the statute books

    A guy did this in the UK, he's been charged with aggravated assault I think, but the punishment will almost not reflect the severity of his actions.

  14. Imhotep Silver badge

    Make Your Parents Proud

    I wonder how long it took them to find a 71 year old female to pull this on?

    So add cowardly to their CV.

  15. MJI Silver badge

    In the UK

    People who help everyone and deliver food and the like are coughing all over their own windscreens, just in case.

    Yes we have traffic wardens out ticketing people delivering to the house bound, reserve coughs for them.

  16. JohnG

    I think the appropriate action for this sort of stupidity should be to take the claim of being infected with Covid-19 at face value and quarantine such a*holes with people who are known to actually have the virus

  17. Manolo
    Mushroom

    Eight weeks jail

    A similar moron got eight weeks (plus two conditional) plus 700 euros damages plus a driving ban for ten months for a similar stunt, though not intended as a prank, but as a way to dodge an alcohol test.

    Pretty stiff sentence by Dutch standards.

    https://www.ad.nl/binnenland/tien-weken-cel-voor-corona-hoester-ik-heb-corona-nu-hebben-jullie-het-ook~ac87e87a/

    (Sorry, no Google Translate link, it trips on the cookie wall)

  18. Mark Exclamation

    Calling him a "prankster" makes it sound like it was only a joke. IMO, it was Assault with a (potentially) deadly weapon, and the act should not be minimised as it has. A seriously long prison sentence (>10 years) is justified for this act.

  19. DiViDeD Silver badge

    Not the only one

    We've also had a woman who tested positive for COVID-19 going round Woolies spitting on the fresh fruit & veg.

    And some arsehole who videod himself licking various items at a supermarket then posted the video to social media.

    Arsetrailer. Unsurprisingly, home to the arse.

  20. IR

    Shocking lack of alliteration in the Reg for this one. Here's one on me:

    Cops cuff clot for coughing the cov in Coffs Harbour.

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