Tees

Coronavirus: Stockton shoplifter denies deliberate cough at guard

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A shoplifter accused of coughing at a security guard and claiming she had coronavirus has pleaded not guilty.

Leanne Stapleton, appearing via videolink at Teesside Magistrates' Court, admitted stealing from a B&M shop in Middlesbrough on 27 March, but denied assault.

It is alleged she deliberately coughed at the shop's guard to try to get away.

The 39-year-old, of Londonderry Road, Stockton, was remanded in custody and is due to go on trial on 6 May.

She was arrested at the B&M store in the town's Dundas Shopping Centre.

Brett Wildridge, defending, said the grandmother-of-two "categorically denied" the assault charge and did not say the words alleged.

He said she claimed to have commented to the security guard as he detained her that he should not be within two metres of her.

Mr Wildridge told the court his client had said to the guard "I might get corona if we go next to each other".

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