Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Lockdown spitter arrested again, for coughing

A man who was arrested during a previous lockdown for spitting at police, claiming he had Covid-19, has been arrested again – this time for coughing on a cop during lockdown.

The 21-year-old Epsom resident appeared at the Auckland District Court today charged with numerous alleged crimes including illegally entering a residence on Mount Eden Rd last month, breaking into a vehicle and damaging another vehicle on Sunday and the coughing incident earlier today.

Police said the man committed a criminal nuisance by coughing on purpose in the officer’s face, knowing that it would endanger the officer’s health. If convicted of the coughing charge, the man could face up to one year in jail.

The man’s latest run-in with police comes 16 months after his arrest during the last alert level 4 lockdown, when police in Hamilton said he spat on them numerous times after he was caught shoplifting from a Countdown store there and unsuccessfully tried to flee.

The officers received medical advice but did not need to go into self-isolation, authorities said after the April 15, 2020, confrontation.

“While rare, such behaviour is highly concerning and potentially extremely dangerous,” Inspector Andrew Mortimore, then-Acting Waikato District Commander, said at the time of the incident. “While we recognise these are challenging times and the current situation may be causing stress and uncertainty for many, that does not excuse criminal behaviour which puts the community at risk.”

The man was handed a sentence of five months’ prison in June 2020 for the numerous offences that day, Stuff previously reported.

“It’s something our officers shouldn’t have to put up with,” NZ Police Association president Chris Cahill told the Herald of the man’s 2020 arrest, explaining that spitting at officers is a problem that predated the lockdown. “It’s truly disgusting behaviour.”

Four others also appeared at Auckland District Court today accused of Covid-related offences charged over the weekend.

A 40-year-old Karekare woman and a 69-year-old Waiheke Island woman were both charged on Saturday with defying the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act. The Karekare resident refused to leave a planned protest area and stay at home, police said. Both women were accused of continuing to intermingle with other members of the public for 20 to 30 minutes after being issued a warning letter.

The maximum penalty for the offences is six months’ imprisonment and a $4000 fine.

Additionally, a Clendon Park man, 29, was charged with multiple offences on Sunday including unlawfully carrying a knife, threatening to injure a person with the knife, stealing a $500 coffee machine from a Briscoes store and being outside his home for non-essential purposes.

Earlier today, a homeless man in Auckland central was arrested for sitting on a bench without a mask and blatantly ignoring directions to remain at home. He was also accused of giving Fire and Emergency NZ a false alarm of a fire.

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