A Canberra woman accused of coughing on police officers and falsely claiming to have COVID-19 should have been referred for a mental health assessment instead of being refused bail and locked up, her lawyer has argued unsuccessfully.
Jayce Leigh Cooper, 30, allegedly gave a false name and tried to flee from two police officers who had stopped to talk to her in Hawker on Easter Sunday.
She is accused of resisting those officers and threatening them and their families when the officers arrested her for breaching bail conditions that were in place at the time.
When she arrived at the ACT Watch House a short time later, Cooper allegedly yelled that she had COVID-19 and coughed "violently" on two different officers who had opened the back of a police vehicle to get her out.
She was subsequently charged with two counts of common assault, as well as resisting arrest and intimidating a territory public official. She has not entered pleas to the charges.
Cooper appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Easter Monday and denied claiming to have COVID-19, saying she had only told police she was sick with what might have been the coronavirus disease.
Representing herself, she also accused police of breaking her hand.
Appearing remotely, Cooper fronted court again on Tuesday, represented this time by lawyer Darryl Perkins.
Mr Perkins said Cooper's initial application for bail on these charges should probably never have been considered because she should have been referred for a mental health assessment.
Mr Perkins said based on dealings with Cooper in recent years, he knew that she suffered from disorders including bipolar and post-traumatic stress.
Furthermore, the police allegations against Cooper suggested she had acted in line with "an underlying mental health impairment".
"Her behaviour towards the police was extreme and untoward, to put it mildly," Mr Perkins said.
Magistrate James Lawton declined to make a mental health assessment referral, saying there was no evidence before the court to support Mr Perkins' comments on that issue.
Mr Perkins pushed ahead with a new bail application, saying Cooper knew it was "a significant ask after what has happened", but she wanted a chance to address her mental health issues.
He said "things were fairly messed up with [Cooper's] life" at the time in question.
Prosecutor Bridget Atkinson opposed bail, saying Cooper was charged over "disgusting behaviour", particularly in the current climate of fear surrounding COVID-19.
She told the court Cooper had coughed on officers who then faced a nervous wait in quarantine before they learned that Cooper had tested negative to COVID-19.
Ms Atkinson said Cooper had been subject to both bail conditions and suspended sentence orders at the time of the Easter Sunday offences she was now charged with.
"The defendant has no respect for police and the community," the prosecutor said.
She said there was a risk that Cooper would commit offences and not appear in court if granted bail.
Mr Lawton agreed. In refusing bail, he said Cooper appeared to have a methamphetamine addiction and had failed to use her last stint on bail to complete a drug rehabilitation program as planned.
He said Cooper was due to be sentenced for a different set of offences and if she was also convicted of the charges relating to Easter Sunday, she would likely face a custodial sentence.
Mr Lawton refused bail and set the case down to return to court on May 1.
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