Police are investigating an alleged hate crime after a stranger coughed in a blind woman’s face while she was out for a walk.
The woman, in her 50s, was walking on Saturday evening with her guide dog on Halifax Road in the town of Melksham on the River Avon, Wiltshire Police has said.
Her dog alerted her to someone close by, and when she shouted out for them to keep back – in order to maintain social distancing rules during the coronavirus lockdown – the person approached her and coughed in her face.
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The woman said she could feel the person’s breath against her cheek, police said.
Sergeant David Hambly, who is investigating the incident, said the person’s behaviour was “completely unacceptable”, adding: “We are treating this as an incident of hate crime”.
“Due to the current climate, the victim felt especially anxious and shocked by this person’s actions and immediately went home and washed her face and hands.
“The suspect in this case has shown complete disregard for this woman’s health and vulnerabilities, and I know members of the local community will be both saddened and disappointed to hear of this person’s actions.
He appealed for any witnesses to come forward, adding: “Unfortunately, we do not have a description of the suspect, but we would urge anyone who may have seen this interaction to get in touch – do you live in Halifax Road?
“Do you have CCTV fitted to your property, or were you driving in the area with a dash cam fitted to your vehicle?
“If so, you may have captured footage of the suspect so please do call us.”