Woolworths COVID-19 floor sticker used to social distance customers in store. Picture: Supplied
Woolworths COVID-19 floor sticker used to social distance customers in store. Picture: Supplied

Lockyer Valley men in court for assaulting supermarket staff

ASKED to obey social distancing rules at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, two Lockyer Valley men lashed out with violence at supermarket staff in two shocking separate attacks, a Gatton court has heard.

Lester Inch and Matthew Summers appeared in Gatton Magistrates Court Monday. November 3 for separate cases of attacking supermarket workers in April when social distancing protocols were being enforced.

The court heard Inch pleaded guilty to assault after he pushed a supermarket employee out of his way and swore at her for enforcing social distancing measures.

The court then heard Summers had assaulted a security guard at Coles Gatton who was employed by the supermarket giant.

Police were called to Woolworths Plainland in April 12, when coronavirus cases were surging in Queensland, after a complaint was made about Inch by an employee of the store.

CCTV footage showed Inch pushing the Woolworths worker after she pointed out to him the designated entry and exit points that were in place to support social distancing.

Police prosecutor senior sergeant Al Windsor told the court that Inch also verbally abused the employee, saying at the top of his voice “this is b**l s**t”.

Inch’s lawyer said the 58-year-old disability pensioner was with his full-time carer when the incident occurred and said “frustration overcame him”.

Magistrate Graham Lee questioned Inch’s statement that he was remorseful saying COVID restrictions were “not b**l s**t”.

Magistrate Lee angrily said, “don’t you read the news”, suggesting Inch should have taken the supermarkets instructions seriously.

Magistrate Lee added that supermarket workers had enough to deal with without the added pressure of maintaining coronavirus measures and said that Inch’s personal situation was no excuse for behaviour that was “simply unacceptable”.

Inch was fined $750 referred to SPER. No conviction was recorded.

Matthew Summers also pleaded guilty on Monday for assaulting a security guard at Coles Gatton in April.

The court heard the security guard asked him to maintain social distancing in the self-service checkout queue.

Summers, 25, then repeatedly pushed the security officer with force who stepped in to help another staff member who had already asked Summers to distance himself from other customers.

Summers’ lawyer said his client who has mental health issues suffered an anxiety attack on the morning of the incident.

In his sentencing, Magistrate Lee said, “I don’t know why people don’t just comply with the COVID regulations” describing Summers’ behaviour as “completely inappropriate”.

Summers was fined $1000 referred to SPER. No conviction recorded.


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