A career burglar has been sent to prison for two years after smearing blood on a police officer while claiming to be infected with COVID-19.
John Gray, 26, of Tower Street, Hartlepool, also threatened to spit in the officers face during the incident.
Gray had been detained in the back yard of The Royal pub by the landlord’s wife after he tried to break into the property.
Teesside Crown Court heard how Gray was kept at the scene until response team officers arrived at the location.
Suffering from a broken jaw, Gray was taken to James Cook University Hospital where his “disgraceful” behaviour continued, as cited by the presiding judge.
Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said Gray refused to wear a mask in hospital and told police: “I’ll spit in your face and see how you like it when you have COVID.”
The court also heard how Gray wiped his bloodied hands on one of the officer’s arms several times “saying he hoped the officer would catch the virus”.
Judge Stephen Ashurst said:
“Most right-thinking members of the public will be alarmed by the suggestion that anyone – even in jest – should suggest that they were carrying a potentially lethal virus”.
“And, when they are bleeding and threatening to spread the blood on to others and to potentially create innocent victims, it is a matter the court does take seriously,” he said.
Mr Sabiston said that Gray was put in a police van where he spat blood and saliva before saying the vehicle was “contaminated”.
Gray was sentenced to 16 months in prison for the burglary plus another eight months for assault, both of which he admitted.
The court heard Gray had a lengthy criminal history, including commercial burglaries and five assaults. Gray did not have coronavirus.
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