Man who coughed on shoppers claiming he had Covid-19 jailed for driving offences

A man who filmed himself coughing and sneezing on shoppers at a supermarket after claiming he had coronavirus has been jailed for driving offences.

Raymond Gary Coombs was sent down for 16 months when he appeared at Christchurch District Court on Tuesday.

The 39-year-old uploaded a video to Facebook on March 31 saying he had been infected with Covid-19 and walking around Fresh Choice supermarket in Barrington, New Zealand.

In April, he pleaded guilty to the charge of offensive behaviour.

Judge Raoul Neave on Tuesday said Coombs’ ill-considered prank came at a time when everyone was highly concerned for their own safety and his actions consequently earned him “significant notoriety”.

He added: “Your behaviour was dangerous, selfish and stupid. It is the kind of nuisance behaviour that has plagued your career.”

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Coombs was described as “an idiot” by Jacinda Ardern, the country’s prime minister after his prank was reported.

He later tested negative.

He was convicted of drink-driving after he was caught driving in August last year, with a blood alcohol level of 239mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood – a reading described by Judge Neave as “astronomical”.



Man who coughed on shoppers claiming he had Covid-19 jailed for driving offences

Coombs was later charged with careless driving and refusing to provide a blood sample, as well as breaching release conditions by contacting a former partner.

He entered guilty pleas on all three of these charges on Tuesday.

Defence lawyer Kathy Basire said Coombs had suffered “significant childhood trauma” and knew he had to abstain from drinking.

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The careless driving charge came after he “fell off the wagon” on the anniversary of his mother’s death, she said.

Coombs was disqualified from driving for 28 days after which he will be able to apply for a zero-alcohol licence.

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