A woman convicted of assault after deliberately coughing on grocery store employees during the pandemic has caught a break from the Court of Appeal.
In April last year Kimberley Woolman was found guilty of causing a disturbance and assault in an April 2020 incident at Campbell River’s Save-On Foods. When asked to follow pandemic procedures, she allegedly shouted that COVID wasn’t real, coughed in the face of a store supervisor, and hit another employee with her cart.
This week Justice Douglas Thompson ruled that the convicting judge made an error in not allowing Woolman to call a character witness for her defence. Thompson says in his reasons for judgment he used his discretion to acquit Woolman, because she has already served a third of her sentence.
Thompson said in his reasons for judgment that allowing testimony about Woolman’s character would have likely influenced the outcome of the initial case, and added important context.
“Of course, the weighing of the evidence is for the trial judge,” he said. “But, the point is that the body of evidence she weighed would not have been the same if the character evidence were heard. It is a reasonable supposition that the excluded character evidence would have been to the effect that [Woolman’s] reputation is as a peaceable person.”