Man caught ‘licking’ escalator rail, groceries at city shops

A TOWNSVILLE man is accused of endangering public health during the global pandemic after he visited the city arcade and allegedly licked an escalator hand rail and numerous items in the Townsville City Woolworths.

Ebbannezah Raymond Douce, 20, is alleged to have licked the hand rail of the escalator in the City Arcade on March 31, and then to have returned about a week later and licked an advertising sign and a number of cereal boxes in the Woolworths store on April 8.

Police allege the hand rail of the escalator had to be specially cleaned and disinfected due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Douce is charged with four offences including one count of contamination of goods with intent to cause public alarm/anxiety, fail to comply to with COVID-19 Public Health Direction - Chief Health Officer and two counts of wilful damage.

According to court documents, the unemployed man of no fixed address, was not showing any symptoms of COVID-19, but had not been tested for the virus either.

"There is the potential that if the defendant had the virus, his actions could have infected several persons for up to a 72-hour period," documents read.


"Unfortunately there is no current legislation to compel a health official to test the defendant whilst he is not showing symptoms.

"The defendant has shown a complete and reprehensible disregard to the health and safety of members of the Townsville community by licking surfaces in public places during this global pandemic.

"He has shown a disregard for the social distancing protocols or good hygiene habits to stem the spread of the virus."

Police allege Douce, who is currently behind bars, was captured on CCTV licking the hand rail and was caught by two security guards licking the shop items.

It is alleged he also breached a directive issued by the Chief Health Officer about home confinement and movement by going to Woolworths and not buying anything.

"Police submit that licking the various items in the shopping centre is beyond the extent of what is reasonably necessary," documents read.

Douce was on bail when he is alleged to have committed the offences and has a four-page criminal history.

"The defendant is a known drug user … the history ranges from drug offending to property offences and violent offences," documents read.

Douce will next face the Townsville Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

Originally published as Man caught 'licking' escalator rail, groceries at city shops