Another six males have been sent to prison after spitting/coughing on police officers while claiming to have COVID-19.
Michael Gray, 41, of Ingatestone Road, SE25, was sentenced at Croydon Magistrates Court on Friday 3rd April after he pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker and using threatening words or behaviour.
The incident happened at about 01:55 hours on Thursday 2nd April 2020, on Upper Tulse Hill in Brixton.
Two patrolling officers saw a man who appeared to be harassing three women.
Officers approached the man, and when they checked his details, they found he was wanted on a warrant for failing to appear at Croydon Magistrates’ Court in relation to driving whilst under the influence of drugs.
He was arrested for the warrant as well as a public order offence after he became confrontational with the officers.
Following his arrest, Gray intentionally coughed towards the two officers and when in custody he threatened to spit at both of them.
He stated that he hoped to infect them with COVID-19 so that they would pass it on to their children.
Michael Gray | Image credit: Met Police
Gray was subsequently charged with the offences above and kept in custody to appear at court the next day.
Gray received eight weeks for the assault on police officers, with the remaining 11 weeks of the sentence for the drug driving offence.
The court also handed down a £100 fine for the public order offence.
In addition, Gray was disqualified from driving for 26 months.
Superintendent Kris Wright, of Central South Command Unit, said:
“This attack on our officers while carrying out their duties protecting the communities of Lambeth and Southwark is an attack on every one of us.
“Both officers displayed the finest qualities of the Met, in spite of threats to, and the risk of COVID-19 infection through this man’s actions, and even worse his desire to cause harm to the officers’ children.
“I am grateful to the court that it treated this matter with the seriousness it deserves.”
“While these type of assaults are thankfully rare; currently, we all have a duty to do everything we can to ‘protect the protectors’.
“My officers are doing everything they can to keep the public safe and police to the very best of their abilities, and we are grateful that the vast majority of people are making every effort to comply with the measures the government has introduced.”
Meanwhile, two ‘disgusting thugs’ who claimed to have Coronavirus and who also coughed in the face of Northumbria police officers have been jailed.
Marc Punton and Daniel Taylor are starting a spell behind bars after the despicable assaults at the weekend.
The first incident happened on Friday evening when officers attended a hotel in Whitley Bay to respond to a report of damage to a window.
Taylor, 34, was identified as a suspect and taken into custody where he continued to be aggressive and verbally abusive to officers and staff.
Marc Punton and Daniel Taylor | Image credit: Northumbria Police
It was in the police cells that he then claimed to have Coronavirus before coughing in the face of a Sergeant.
In a separate incident on Saturday evening, officers had been on foot patrol in Gateshead town centre when they found Marc Punton shouting in the street.
They asked him what he was doing out the house before he told them he was on his way to visit his ill mother.
But when officers told him that he could be putting her at risk by making the journey, he became verbally abusive.
He was arrested for being drunk and disorderly but then began to cough and spit at one of the arresting officers while claiming to have Coronavirus.
Both men were charged with assault of an emergency worker and pleaded guilty when they appeared before magistrates on Monday morning.
Punton, of Affleck Street, Gateshead, was jailed for 36 weeks while Taylor, of Helena Avenue, Whitley Bay, was jailed for 26 weeks.
Chief Superintendent Neil Hutchison from Northumbria Police has condemned their actions and said the custodial sentences should act as a stern warning.
“These are despicable assaults that can cause a great deal of distress,” he said.
“The officers, staff and volunteers who proudly pull on their Northumbria Police uniform every day do it because they want to keep people safe, and this type of behaviour is completely unacceptable.
“I hope the custodial sentences handed down by the judge underline how seriously offences of this nature are taken by the criminal justice system.
“We will make sure our officers continue to receive the support they need while protecting the communities we serve.”
Chief Supt Hutchison added:
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the overwhelming majority of you who continue to support all of the emergency services during these unprecedented times.
“Your heartfelt messages and acts of kindness mean a great deal to us all – and highlight the fantastic community spirit we have here in the North East.”
Neither men tested positive for Coronavirus and admitted they had made it up.
They appeared at Bedlington Magistrates’ Court on Monday, where Taylor was also ordered to pay £122 in compensation and Punton was ordered to pay £250.
Yet another man who spat at Lancashire Constabulary police officers claiming he had the Coronavirus has also been jailed for a year.
Callum Heaton, 23, was arrested for being drunk and disorderly after police were called to a report of a disturbance on Cog Lane in Burnley in the early hours of Saturday (28th March).
Callum Heaton | Pic credit” Lancashire Police
During the arrest, Heaton spat at two officers claiming he was infected with COVID-19.
He continued to do so while he was taken to custody.
Heaton, of Cog Lane, appeared before Burnley Magistrates’ Court on Monday (30th March) and pleaded guilty to two counts of assault on an emergency worker and one of criminal damage.
He was jailed for a total of 12 months.
A spokesperson for Lancashire Constabulary said:
“This was a particularly offensive and dangerous offence at this particular time spitting at officers.
“It is totally unacceptable that police and other front line workers who are doing their best to keep our communities safe are treated like this.
“It is good to see that the court are taking these type of incidents seriously.”
Yet another man who claimed he had Coronavirus before spitting at police officers has also been jailed.
Wesley Upton, 26, was arrested at a property in St Neots after officers received reports he had breached a court order by visiting his ex-partner.
As he was taken into custody, Upton became increasingly aggressive and began to hurl abuse at the arresting officers.
He shouted: “I’m going to spit at all of you; I’ve got corona; you will all be dead.”
As he was booked into custody, Upton’s vitriolic rant escalated, as he began to shout racist abuse at officers.
While answering the detention officer’s questions, he continually turned to continue his campaign of verbal abuse, shouting: “I’m going to give you corona, whoever comes near my door I will spit at. Whoever opens my cell flap, I will spit in their face.”
Upton, of Child’s Pond Road, St. Neots, was jailed on 2nd April at Cambridge Magistrate’s Court.
Detective Inspector Claire Hewson from Cambridgeshire Constabulary said:
“I would like to commend the professionalism and composure the arresting officers displayed while dealing with Upton’s vile behaviour.
“This is not an isolated incident. We are seeing more occasions where members of the public are lashing out at emergency service workers who are doing their best to keep the public safe.
“I hope this sentence serves as a warning for anyone thinking of acting in a similar way.”
A man from the Isle of Wight who repeatedly coughed at four police officers and told them he would infect them with COVID-19 has also been jailed for six months.
A court heard how Riko Baber coughed on four officers, threatening to infect them with the virus.
He also spat in the cell of a police van, requiring it to be removed from service and specially cleaned.
Isle of Wight Magistrates’ Court heard officers had attended a disturbance at an address in Manor Crescent, Newport, just after 5 pm yesterday (6th April) when they arrested 30-year-old Baber.
Having placed him in the back of a police van, Baber began spitting in the cell.
On arrival at custody, Baber then started coughing at officers as they tried to remove him from the vehicle.
In total, he coughed numerous times at four officers, also kicking two of them.
Baber, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to three counts of common assault of an emergency worker, one of assault by beating of an emergency worker, using threatening or abusive words or behaviour and criminal damage.
He was also pleaded guilty to a further count of criminal damage and two more counts of using threatening or abusive words or language concerning an incident on 26th March.
The court heard that on 26th March, Baber forced entry to Grove House Surgery in Ventnor, and was aggressive to staff members who were trying to assist patients on the phone.
Assistant Chief Constable Scott Chilton from Hampshire Police said:
“We are in the midst of a national health emergency, and my officers are doing everything they can to limit the spread of infection, protect their NHS colleagues and help save lives.
“It is completely unacceptable that people are using this virus as a weapon in these extremely challenging times. Not only is this vile behaviour, but it causes a huge personal impact on those officers and their families too.
“This sentence should serve as a warning to anyone who thinks it is acceptable to cough and spit at police officers, or anyone else responding to this crisis. You will be arrested, and you will face the consequences of your actions.”
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