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Offenders jailed for coughing and spitting at Emergency Services workers
14 May 2020
CROWN PROSECUTION Service (CPS) prosecutors in the North West continue to bring criminal charges against those people who deliberately cough or spit at Emergency Services workers and other essential workers (among them private sector security officers) while claiming to have Coronavirus.
Martin Goldman, the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the CPS in the North West, has reinforced his team's support for Emergency Services workers across the region and warned those who commit such crimes that they will face prosecution.
A snapshot of recent cases shows that, where the victims are police officers or NHS staff, prosecutors are making full use of the specific offence of assaulting an Emergency Services worker, which carries a maximum sentence of 12 months in prison. Prosecutors are also bringing the aggravating features of spitting, coughing and threatening victims with Coronavirus to the attention of the court such that this can be taken into account when sentencing.
Goldman commented: “Anyone who deliberately coughs or spits at an Emergency Services worker and threatens to infect them with COVID-19 should be left in no doubt that we are taking these cases extremely seriously. As recent cases before the courts show, we are prosecuting those who commit such crimes with assault, and offenders face up to 12 months in prison. Police officers, NHS staff and other Emergency Services workers should be able to perform their vitally important roles without meeting such disgusting and potentially dangerous behaviour. We will not hesitate to prosecute those who put the safety of key staff and the safety of the public at risk in this way.”
In the Greater Manchester area, Jamie McAdam was jailed for 13 months for spitting at a council security officer and at police officers on 27 March in Fallowfield while shouting that he had Coronavirus and hoped they would die.
On 3 April, three police officers attended an incident in Little Hulton, Manchester following reports that Shaun Sleigh, 31, had caused criminal damage and was in possession of a knife. When police officers arrived at the house, Sleigh was verbally abusive to them, assaulted one of the officers by grabbing her head and hair and, while he was being arrested, he coughed over the other two officers and claimed he had Coronavirus. CPS North West prosecuted him for three assaults perpetrated against Emergency Services workers. Sleigh pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a total of 36 weeks in prison.
On 10 April, Colin Dandridge, 34, was arrested at the Asda store in Dane Street, Rochdale. The defendant was asked to leave the store by a member of the security staff and then coughed repeatedly in the security officer's face while claiming to have Coronavirus. Outside the store, he threatened to spit at the officer while repeating the claim that he had Coronavirus. Dandridge was arrested by the police shortly afterwards. CPS North West prosecuted him for assault. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison.
Ryan Walker, 24, was arrested on 8 April at Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester city centre after he had been warned numerous times to leave by police officers and had coughed in their direction while claiming to have Coronavirus. He then later spat at one of the arresting officers and racially abused another. CPS North West prosecuted him for assaulting an Emergency Services worker, racially aggravated public order and being drunk and disorderly. Walker pleaded guilty was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison.
In Lancashire on 5 April, Jason Longstaff, 48, was jailed for four months for pulling down his facemask and spitting in the face of a security officer at the Asda store on Cherry Tree Road in Blackpool after he was challenged for jumping the social distancing queue. Longstaff pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court on 6 May.