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Ballymoney man accused of ‘assault’ was allegedly involved in ‘prolonged coughing’ at start of covid lockdown

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A COURT has heard an allegation of common assault being faced by a man relates to an alleged incident of “prolonged coughing” at the start of the coronavirus lockdown period in March this year.

Joel Gault (22), of The Warren, Ballymoney, is charged in relation to March 21.

A defence solicitor told Coleraine Magistrates Court on October 19 that a number of still photographs from CCTV had been served in evidence.

She said the allegation was “prolonged coughing” and said she had looked at still photos which while they show “some quite strange behaviour” they didn’t appear to show him coughing.

She said another photo showed the defendant trying to “possibly hug a lady” but said she was the not the subject matter of the assault charge, the solicitor said.

The lawyer wanted to know if there was actual CCTV footage.

A prosecutor said there had been CCTV footage but it had been “lost”.

The defence solicitor said she should be able to give the attitude of the defendant to the charge by October 30.
The lawyer said she was aware that an assault did not have to be “physical”.

The solicitor added: “It was really just about the time, it was the weekend before, lockdown. He had, unfortunately, some sort of a cough three weeks prior to that, never was tested, but appears not to have been covid.”

District Judge Peter King said it was a “slightly bizarre case.”

The judge said he was concerned by the allegation of “deliberate coughing, at one level, post-lockdown”.

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