Our laws apply to everyone, a provincial court judge said to a Campbell River woman who refused to follow COVID-19 rules, claimed the pandemic is a hoax, assaulted frontline workers and coughed into the face of a grocery store worker trying to enforce rules.
“A just society is also a civil, peaceful society,” provincial court judge Barbara Flewelling said in her reasons for sentencing Kimberly Brenda Woolman to 18 months probation on July 19. “It needs to be brought home to Ms. Woolman and others who are like-minded, that our laws, including public health orders and the Criminal Code, apply to everyone.
“Ms. Woolman assaulted two front line workers and caused a disturbance in the Save On Foods store that day because she didn’t want to follow a public health order that she maintain a distance of six feet from other people. It was far from an onerous law to follow. Her actions were intentional and her moral blameworthiness is high.”
On April 13, Woolman was found guilty in Campbell River provincial court of causing a disturbance at the Save On Foods grocery store in Campbell River; assault of a Save On Foods employee by forcibly and deliberately coughing in her face; and assault of another employee when she deliberately shoved and pushed her shopping cart into him.
“I heard evidence from all five store employees who were directly involved with Ms. Woolman that day,” the judge says in her reasons for sentencing. “They were required to respond to Ms. Woolman’s refusal to follow the Save On Foods store policy requiring all people to maintain a distance of six feet, her refusal to immediately leave the store, and her continuous loud invective that COVID 19 was fake.”
The Crown had asked that the judge impose a fine of $1,000 and probation for 18 months with minimal conditions. The judge, noting Woolman’s limited ability to pay a fine, suspended passing of sentence and placed Woolman on 18 months probation with conditions that required, among other standard provisions, no contact or communication with the Save On Foods employee attempting to get Woolman to comply with the rules and banned her from going into the Save Foods store in Campbell River.
The judge says denunciation and deterrence are served by the fact that Woolman will now have a criminal record.
“Throughout much of the trial, Ms. Woolman was aggressive and rude to witnesses and, at times, with the Court,” Judge Flewelling says in her reasons for sentencing. “Her behaviour on April 24, 2020 was also aggressive and rude. She displayed an astounding level of selfishness as she disregarded the entreaties of Ms. Poulton to simply agree to follow social distancing guidelines. Ms. Woolman was of the view that she was in the right to insist that she did not have to follow the store guidelines which had been put in place to comply with public health orders to slow the transmission and spread of COVID-19 between people.
“It would have been very simple, and easy, for her to have simply complied with the reasonable and lawful request to adhere to social distancing. Instead, she embarked on a tirade about her belief that COVID-19 was not real and was fake. While she is entitled to have her own beliefs about COVID-19, she was not entitled to insist that she did not have to follow rules that were put in place by the Provincial Health Officer to protect people during a pandemic and, at a time when much was still unknown about the virus. It was the height of selfishness and self-entitlement.
“It is aggravating that Ms. Woolman assaulted and disparaged five employees who were required to work on the front lines during a pandemic. People were dying from the COVID-19 virus and front line workers who, like these five individuals, were exposed to the public faced the greatest risk of contracting the virus.
“It is a factor I consider in determining a fit and just sentence and in balancing and weighing the various sentencing objectives.”
A mitigating factor was that Woolman has no prior criminal record.