Tees

Coronavirus: Redcar woman spat at Morrisons shop worker

Morrisons supermarket, Redcar Image copyright Google
Image caption The spitting incident took place in Morrisons car park

A woman spat at a shop worker and harassed people by begging door-to-door during the coronavirus lockdown.

Emma Ritchie, from Redcar, admitted breaching distancing rules and ignoring a police instruction to go home.

Appearing at Teesside Magistrates' Court Ritchie, 39 and of Station Road, also admitted a charge of assault after spitting at the Morrisons employee.

"Spitting of itself is disgusting, it must have been even more frightening at this time," a judge told her.

Ritchie also pleaded guilty to a begging charge and a public order offence after becoming abusive.

The court heard she frightened several older people by begging door-to-door at night.

'Vulnerable and upset'

Cleveland Police said the force had received 19 phone calls from worried residents.

Insp Neil Deluce said many "were vulnerable and upset that they had to answer the door".

Jo Hesse, prosecuting, said one witness said not only were they "concerned someone would knock on my door so late, it did cross my mind, because of the coronavirus, she may have the virus and spread it".

Ritchie spat at the Morrisons staff member in the store car park after they got into a dispute.

John Clish, defending, said she had mental health problems and had recently started smoking heroin.

She was begging because she had gone three weeks without a benefits payment, he said.

Ritchie, a former mental health student, was remanded into custody and is due to be sentenced on 16 April.

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