A judge in Nottinghamshire has taken swift action to jail a man who spat at police officers while claiming to have symptoms of Coronavirus.
Paul Leivers 48, of Tideswell Court, Mansfield, has been locked up after being sentenced to 12 months in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of assault on an emergency worker.
This is believed to be one of the first such cases in the country since new powers were given to police last week.
Leivers was arrested on Thursday in Mansfield and then went on to spit at Nottinghamshire Police custody officers.
He appeared in front of District Judge Leo Pyle at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court earlier today.
The court confirmed that Leivers did not have coronavirus, nor the symptoms of the disease.
District Judge Pyle said: “It was in the public interest to deal with the matter sooner rather than later.
“These are two distinct acts and it was appalling behaviour, these offences were deliberate and pre-mediated.
“Emergency workers have a difficult job at the best of time even more so at the minute and the court will not flinch to protect officers.”
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cooper, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “This sentence sends out a very powerful and clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated in any shape or form and especially not now in the current climate.
“In these worrying times for us all having someone spitting at front line officers threatening them with Coronavirus is both despicable and appalling. Our officers are putting their duty to the public ahead of their own welfare at this current time. They put themselves at risk every single to day in order to protect our communities – they should not and will not have to put up with this.
“I want to thank the judge for making an example of this situation which I know will send a message loud and clear not just here in Nottinghamshire but across the country.”
Chief Constable Craig Guildford added: “This is the exact reassurance our officers need – that this will not be tolerated and new powers we now have means swift action will be taken to deal with those that choose to offend in this way. Despicable, thoughtless and disgraceful acts such as this will not go unpunished.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping said: “There is never an excuse for this type of behaviour, it is always unacceptable but in the current circumstances it is even more shocking. The sentence handed down makes it clear that assaulting frontline officers and key workers will notbe tolerated and there will be serious consequences. Thankfully the officers concerned are unharmed, but no-one should ever be abused in this way simply because of the job they do. All key workers deserve our full support, it’s important that they know how much we value their commitment and I thank them all.”
The force has also confirmed the officers that were spat at are safe and well.