A Whitsunday man is in custody on remand after allegedly threatening police during an arrest.
A Whitsunday man is in custody on remand after allegedly threatening police during an arrest.

Man allegedly coughed in cop's face claiming he had COVID-19

UPDATE: A Whitsunday man who allegedly threatened police and coughed in a cop's face after claiming he had COVID-19 will spend another night in custody as a magistrate considers whether or not to grant bail.     

Acting Magistrate John Aberdeen told Mackay Magistrates Court he still had concerns about Christopher Leigh Barratt in relation to granting bail.    

The freedom bid was heard on Tuesday with the case adjourned to Wednesday for a decision, however Mr Aberdeen asked Mr Barratt's solicitor, Rosie Varley, to talk to her client about a possible new bail address and wearing an ankle monitor.   

It is understood the man lived in a caravan with three dogs on a property that is near to where the officer, who it is alleged he had threatened, also lived.      

Mr Aberdeen told Ms Varley he had concerns specifically over the allegations Mr Barratt claimed to have COVID-19 and coughed in the face of a police officer and that he threatened a police officer.  

It is alleged the incident occurred on January 9 this year when police attended his address.    

Mr Barratt, 37, was charged with assaulting and obstructing police, failing to comply with a COVID-19 public health direction, refusing to give access to electronic equipment and possessing used drug utensils.    

Mr Aberdeen said he also wanted to know if Mr Barratt had since given police the access codes to his phone.     

The case was adjourned to Thursday.

A Whitsunday man is accused of claiming he had COVID-19 and then coughing in a cop’s face. Picture: Julian Andrews
A Whitsunday man is accused of claiming he had COVID-19 and then coughing in a cop’s face. Picture: Julian Andrews

EARLIER: A Whitsunday man allegedly claimed he had COVID-19 and coughed in an officer's face before threatening police during an arrest at his home.

Christopher Leigh Barratt was taken back into custody on January 9, barely a month after he was released on bail for serious drug charges in December.

It is alleged when police arrived at the Maeva Street address on Saturday with a search warrant he refused to hand over access to his mobile phone.

Mackay Magistrates Court heard he made "not so veiled threats" towards officers "and deliberately (coughed) on one of them claiming he had COVID-19".

Mr Barratt, 37, is charged with assaulting and obstructing police, failing to comply with a COVID-19 public health direction, refusing to give access to electronic equipment and possessing used drug utensils.

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Legal Aid Queensland solicitor Rosie Varley said, on her reading of the police objection to bail, Mr Barratt did not claim to have COVID-19, rather "it just appears that he was exhibiting perhaps symptoms of COVID-19".

"My client recalls it a little bit differently … at the very least there's going to be some case conferencing required," Ms Varley told the court.

Ms Varley argued it would be unjust for her client to remain in custody and submitted bail conditions could mitigate any risk.

Prosecutor Harry Coburn said Mr Barratt had been arrested in December on "serious drug offences involving large amounts of drugs and cash on the property as well as charges of supply".

The court heard he was also allegedly found possessing a knife and a taser.

Mr Coburn argued Mr Barratt "a short time later" had a new drug charge.

"There is an unacceptable risk that he will continue to commit further drug offences," Mr Coburn said.

The court heard "of particular concern to prosecution" was Mr Barratt "poses an unacceptable risk to members of the public".

"Namely the officer that he's (allegedly) not too subtly threatened," Mr Coburn said, adding the proposed bail address was "absolutely not suitable".

"(Mr Barratt) has stated she'll get what's coming to her."

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"You interpret that as a threat of some description?" Acting Magistrate John Aberdeen asked.

Mr Coburn said, "Combined with the insinuations on where the officer now lives, (Mr Barratt was) making the officer aware that he knows where she lives".

"It keeps that risk at an unacceptable level," Mr Coburn said, adding Mr Barratt allegedly "clearly meant to intimidate and alarm the officers present whether by making threats or by admitting that he had COVID symptoms and then directly coughing in the officer's face".

Ms Varley had argued her client had no criminal history in Queensland and although jail was not a last resort for some of the charges, it was not inevitable for her client.

"In my submission it would be unjust for Mr Barratt to remain in custody," Ms Varley said.

The case was adjourned until today so Mr Aberdeen could consider his decision overnight.



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