Testing Continues In Melbourne COVID-19 Hotspots As Victoria Records 75 New Coronavirus Cases
Testing Continues In Melbourne COVID-19 Hotspots As Victoria Records 75 New Coronavirus Cases

POLL: Public's opinion sought for purposely coughing penalty

THE first person in Queensland to be sentenced for purposely coughing on a police officer, causing fear of COVID-19, sparked a debate this week.

Arwa Valmai Dolar, 43, was charged with assault police (coughing) after an incident at the Rockhampton Police Station on Tuesday.

Read more here: First Queenslander to be sentenced for coughing on police

She pleaded guilty to the offence in Rockhampton Magistrates Court on July 2 which led to a calm debate over how Magistrate Philippa Beckinsale should approach sentencing Dolar due to the lack of comparison cases to guide the court.

Ms Beckinsale asked lawyers for prosecution and defence for suggestions and if she should treat coughing purposely like the offence of spitting.

An assault against a police officer, which includes spitting, under the Police Powers and Responsibility Act 2000, has a maximum penalty of a $5,338 fine or six months' imprisonment. This is increased to a fine of $8,007 or 12 months' imprisonment if the offence is committed within, or in the vicinity of, licensed premises.

Defendants could also be charged with a serious assault police charge which carries a maximum of seven years, which can be aggravated by spitting - aka bodily fluids and result in up to 14 years prison.

Defence lawyer Zoe Craven submitted likening the offence of coughing to spitting was too high in terms of appropriate penalty.

"While it is a serious example of that type of offence, given there was no actual contact and there was no risk needing to be prevented by what occurred, I submit your honour could deal with that by way of a fine," Ms Craven

Ms Beckinsale sentenced Dolar to a probation order, but issued a warning.

"If there was any sign of spittle on the officer, I would have been tipped towards a prison sentence," she said.


Given the community interest in COVID-19 impact on the essential workers and general community members, The Morning Bulletin would like readers to select what they feel would be an appropriate penalty a court could order for someone who had purposely coughed on a police officer, or other public workers:


What do you think is the most appropriate penalty given by court order for a person who has purposely coughed on a police officer or public service employee?

This poll ended on 13 July 2020.

Current Results

A fine of a couple hundred dollars


A probation order (the minimum probation order allowed in six months and maximum is three years)


A short term of prison (eg six months)


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.