It is reported that at about 1:30pm Wednesday last week, two shoppers allegedly fought over toilet paper at Woolworths in Westfields Parramatta.

Police were contacted to attend to a ‘disturbance’.

This resulted in six police officers attending the scene over an alleged fight for toilet paper as buyers continue ‘panic buy’, clearing shelves across the nation’s supermarkets following the coronavirus fears.

One witness reported that the fight broke out between a man and woman who were shopping in the supermarket for toilet paper. The witness says that one was carrying a knife.

It’s reported that the woman involved has difficulties in communicating, causing investigation difficulties for police to find out what actually happened.

Another witness has said, “there was a fight over toilet paper. You could hear a commotion coming from down the end aisle”.

“There was a knife pulled and the people started running around.”

“It was all over in a few moments, security were here and police came and talked to a woman”.

Fortunately, no one was injured.

The fears caused by the Coronavirus pandemic has caused concerned shoppers to over stock on certain essentials, including toilet paper, hand sanitiser, pasta, rice and water bottles.

This has caused an over-demand prompting supermarkets to increase their stocks to keep up with demand.

Footages are emerging of shoppers raiding shopping aisles of toilet paper in the Revesby Woolworths store. It shows a ‘stampede’ of over concerned shoppers placing many packets of toilet paper in trolleys.

A Lidcombe store was completely sold out of toilet paper by Wednesday evening.

A sustainable toilet paper business, Who Gives a Crap ran out of toilet paper as a result of the ‘panic buying’. Their sales increased by 800%!

Others have gone onto social media, including Facebook to sell toilet paper at significantly marked up prices.

Have a question on this topic? Call Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia 24/7 to speak in a free consultation with one of their criminal lawyers located in Sydney CBD.

Law on Having a Knife in Public

A Court has the ability to impose a maximum penalty of 2-years jail or $2,200 fine, or both to anyone who has custody of a knife in a public place, or school. This includes a criminal conviction/record, prescribed by section 11C Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW).

There are a few important things to know about this charge though.

Firstly, for police to charge a person for this offence, they can only do so within 6-months from the date of the offence. Section 179 Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (NSW) precludes police from charging a person if the 6-month time period has lapsed.

Secondly, instead of a police officer issuing a court attendance notice, which requires him/her to appear in court to face the allegation, the police can and usually give out a penalty notice for this offence.

A penalty notice is also known as an on-the-spot fine which does not require the person to appear in court and face the earlier mentioned maximum penalties, nor a criminal conviction.

The penalty notice for having custody of a knife in public is $550 under rule 15 Summary Offences Regulation 2015 (NSW).

Upon paying this fine, the matter is concluded, with no criminal conviction, and no requirement to face court, which would otherwise allow the Magistrate to impose much heavier penalties.

Police only have the discretion to give out a penalty notice for this offence if it appears to the officer that the offence has been committed and it’s not desirable to have a court determine it, and if the person accused does not have a previous knife-related offence.

What are the defences to a charge of having custody of a knife in public? Defences to this charge include a situation where there is a reasonable excuse, including:

  • Having custody of it because it’s reasonably necessary in all the circumstances for a genuine religious reason, official uniform, organised exhibition by knife collectors, exhibition of knives for retail or other trade, participation in lawful entertainment, sport or recreation, preparation or consumption of drink or food, or lawful pursuit of an occupation, training or education.
  • Having custody of it because it’s reasonably necessary in all the circumstances while travelling from or to any of the activities referred to above.
  • Duress or necessity.

Having custody of a knife purely for self-defence is not necessarily considered a reasonable excuse as a type of defence to the charge.