Christchurch man filmed coughing in supermarket apologises for 'foolish act'

Author
Amber Allott,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Apr 2020, 10:46AM
38-year-old Raymond Coombs faced two charges in the Christchurch District Court.
38-year-old Raymond Coombs faced two charges in the Christchurch District Court.

Christchurch man filmed coughing in supermarket apologises for 'foolish act'

Author
Amber Allott,
Publish Date
Mon, 6 Apr 2020, 10:46AM

A Christchurch man who filmed himself coughing on supermarket shoppers has admitted offensive behaviour - and apologised for his "foolish act".

Raymond Coombs, 38, has had his second video appearance in the Christchurch District Court this afternoon.

He was remanded in custody this morning until the results of a Covid-19 test were in. He has tested negative.

Coombs was initially facing charges of criminal nuisance and failing to follow a Medical Officer of Health's orders.

The criminal nuisance charge was amended to one of offensive behaviour – and the other has been dropped.

Coombs has pleaded guilty to offensive behaviour – and convicted.

He told the court he wanted to apologise to the court and the community.

"It was a foolish insensitive act, and I regret it – I really do."

Coomb's lawyer says he'd been watching prank videos on YouTube before he recorded the footage of himself – pretending to cough on fellow shoppers at the Barrington Fresh Choice.

Judge Jane McMeeken said he owed the whole country an apology, describing the incident as serious one – and this wasn't an isolated incident.

McMeeken said that on March 31 he uploaded a very serious video where he pretended he had the virus – and told viewers how awful it was.

"At the time you behaved in this appalling fashion you had no way of knowing whether you really had the virus," the judge said.

"This is an unprecedented time in New Zealand's history… many people are suffering.

"Your behaviour would've added to that suffering.

"It's vitally important to our country we get out of lockdown as soon as possible. Your actions could've stopped that."

Judge McMeeken has deferred sentencing until May 19 – and Coombs has been released on bail.

He's been ordered not to access the internet until then – apart from Facebook Messenger messages to family and friends.

But McMeeken says his family may not want to talk to him.

Coombs, 38, had appeared in court earlier today.

He sparked outrage over the weekend when he filmed himself coughing and sneezing on customers in the Barrington Fresh Choice – and posted it on Facebook.

He later took down the video and apologised – claiming he'd had too much to drink.

Police arrested Coombs on Saturday night.

Judge Jane McMeeken told the court today she considers this serious offending – which has caused concern nationwide.

In the video Coombs walks through Fresh Choice supermarket in Barrington, coughing near other customers and smiling.

The post was later deleted from his Facebook page.

"I'm sorry for this prank. It never should've happened, the alcohol had really taken effect and I have no sensor when I get this messy," Coombs wrote.

"There is nothing else that I can say but apologise to everybody, and assure you all it will not happen again."

Fresh Choice Barrington confirmed they reported the video to police.