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Jail for woman who coughed at medics and said: "I have the virus"

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Rebecca Blunnie at Ennis District Court

Rebecca Blunnie at Ennis District Court

Rebecca Blunnie at Ennis District Court

A woman who coughed in the direction of two paramedics in the back of an ambulance, telling them "I have the virus", has been jailed for six months for assault.

Judge Patrick Durcan, sitting in Ennis District Court yesterday, said Rebecca Blunnie's behaviour on April 10 last "was of an absolutely appalling nature".

Blunnie (30), of Pella Road, Kilrush, Co Clare, pleaded guilty to the assault of paramedics David Meaney and Frank Greaney at Dunogrogue, Killimer, on April 10.

Sgt Aiden Lonergan said the two paramedics were within one metre of Blunnie when she coughed in the confined space of an ambulance and stated that she had the virus.

Judge Durcan said: "On that date, this country was in a maelstrom in the middle of the worst public health crisis that has ever been experienced here."

He said the country was in virtual lockdown, business had ground to a halt and citizens were in fear; and, despite all of that, Blunnie gave appalling abuse to "these two decent men" of the ambulance service.

Judge Durcan added that, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, "ambulance service personnel were laying their lives on the line day in and day out to assist people who were genuinely ill".

He said that in her drunken, selfish stupor, Blunnie had an ambulance sent for her.

Judge Durcan said Blunnie - who has 43 previous convictions - "has an appalling record".

Sgt Lonergan told the court Blunnie "smirked" after coughing in the direction of the two paramedics.

Blunnie denied this in court.

She previously told the court: "It was just a joke. I didn't mean to do it", and later added "I don't have the virus".

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Monica Roche, solicitor for Blunnie, told the court that her client sincerely apologises to the paramedics and the gardaí for her actions.

She said her client was highly intoxicated on the night.

Blunnie was sentenced to six months.


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