Watch: Man with COVID caught spitting at police officer
A criminal infected with COVID-19 spat at police officers and shouted ‘I’ve got corona’ after luring them to a car park, a court has heard.
Martin Hoggarth, 32, from Hylton Road, Sunderland, was jailed for three months after admitting assault on an emergency worker.
Newcastle Crown Court heard he called Northumbria Police on 17 November last year to tell them he was wanted for a bail offence and wanted to meet them.
When officers picked him up at Millfield Metro station in Sunderland to arrest him, he was initially compliant as he was handcuffed.
However, once inside the police vehicle, Hoggarth spat at the seats and then deliberately at one of the officers, despite knowing he had COVID-19 at the time.
Police body cam footage from the incident showed Hoggarth shouting repeatedly “I’ve got corona” and spitting.
The court heard that Hoggarth, who has a “horrendous” criminal record of 104 previous convictions, spat twice at one of the officers but missed.
Prosecutor Joe Culley said: “The defendant turned towards the PC and spat towards him. He was then heard spitting a further time.
“It was later confirmed the defendant had in fact tested positive. He was positive at that time for COVID-19.”
The officer who was targeted has been a member of the police force for six years and lives with someone vulnerable.
He said: “I don't think there has ever been a more testing time to provide this service to the public.
“The world is in a state of crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic and our force is dealing with what that brings.
“I come to work every day not knowing who I am going to come into contact with or whether those people are infectious.
“I realise there is an element of risk but I don't expect to be spat at by a human confirmed to be infectious with this deadly virus.”
Judge Julie Clemitson said: “Spitting is abhorrent at the best of times but during a pandemic becomes even more serious.
“You were out of the house, outside, notwithstanding the fact that you had tested positive for coronavirus, you were aware of that.
“You contacted the police and invited them to come and arrest you and when they did you began shouting, increasing the risk to them.
“It is well known shouting and spit particles increases the risk to people around you.
“When they tried to arrest you and keep you in the police vehicle you started spitting on the seats.
“You tried to spit at the police constable. He is right when he says he shouldn't have to put up with that sort of behaviour at work.
“You were fully aware of your COVID status at the time. You should have been aware you weren't to be outside, let alone seeking contact with police officers.”
The judge said it was “lucky” the officer did not contract coronavirus as a result of the incident.
She told Hoggarth: “The offence is so serious it must be marked with a custodial sentence. It must be marked such behaviour simply cannot be tolerated.”
Vic Laffey, defending, said Hoggarth accepted his behaviour was “despicable” and added: "Thankfully, the officer wasn't caught by the saliva.
“Thankfully, he didn't contract this disease, admittedly by luck rather than good judgment.”
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