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Judge finds man who bit Corner Brook corrections officer guilty of assault

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Judge Wayne Gorman said a man charged with assaulting a peace officer was not acting in defence of person or property when he bit a correctional officer on the hand.

Gorman convicted William (Billy) Woolridge, 44, of the charge in provincial court in Corner Brook on Monday afternoon.

During Woolridge’s trial last week the court heard that the incident occurred while he was being processed at the Corner Brook lockup on Dec. 22, 2016, following his arrest on a warrant by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

Woolridge, who was not present for the decision, has vision and hearing impairments and the court heard that during the processing he snatched up his medications off a counter and refused to surrender them to the corrections officers. When officers attempted to take them from him, he bent down and bit one of them on the thumb.

The Crown contended that Woolridge didn’t like the explanation that he was given as to why he couldn’t take his medications into the cell with him and got angry and the biting of the officer was deliberate and no accident.

The Crown also suggested Woolridge was exaggerating his ability to hear and see as his actions contradicted the level of impairment he testified to.

Woolridge’s lawyer, Gary Kearney, suggested his client acted in self-defence as he could not identify the victim as a corrections officer and did not know who was touching him.

In his decision, Gorman said he was satisfied Woolridge knew the victim was a corrections officer and that the officer was actively engaged in carrying out his duties when he was bitten.

He said the evidence established Woolridge knew what was happening and was co-operative while at the lockup as he passed his shoes directly to one of the officers when asked to remove them.

He also said he was satisfied that Woolridge could see the medications on the counter before picking them up.

Woolridge was also convicted of a breach of an undertaking for failing to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

The Crown has requested a pre-sentence report be completed on Woolridge and a sentencing hearing was set for Nov. 6.

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