Man jailed for coughing in face of police officer when asked if he had Covid

A man who coughed in the face of a police officer after being asked if he had Covid-19 symptoms has been jailed for 11 months.

Casey Saint, 24, was arrested after he became aggressive and abusive towards police when they were called to a property in Bury St Edmunds following a disturbance on June 2 last year.

Prosecutor David Wilson said Saint, who was in the back garden, swore several times and ‘fronted up’ an officer.

He was then arrested for using threatening words or behaviour and while he was being detained, an officer asked whether he had any coronavirus symptoms.

Saint then coughed twice in the face of the officer and directed a number of other coughs towards him, according to the East Anglia Times.

He was jailed for 11 months for the assault on an emergency worker as well as for two further charges of theft and of possessing a knife in a public place.

Phillip Farr, mitigating, said Saint had used his time on remand since October ‘as wisely as he possibly can’ and works in the prison kitchen. 

But judge Emma Peters said: ‘In my view, anyone who coughs in the face of a police officer during a global pandemic is deserving of punishment.’

Saint, who pleaded guilty, was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £156.

It comes as neighbouring force Essex Police said that the number of spitting, coughing, and biting assaults on their officers has leapt up during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The force recorded 402 instances of these attacks on police from February to November last year, up from 303 reported during the same period in 2019.

National chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter, said the assaults on police officers during the pandemic was ‘a serious issue for us all’.

He said: ‘Those who attack emergency workers have a complete lack of respect for anything or anybody.

‘Without doubt, we are living in a more violent society which needs to take a long hard look at itself.’

He added: ‘We need officers to have the very best protection, and there must be a strong deterrent – that deterrent should be time in prison, no ifs, no buts.

‘Time and time again we see officers who have been badly assaulted, and they see their attacker being let off with little more than just a slap on the wrist.

‘This is offensive and fails to give that deterrent which is so desperately needed.’

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