The Crown Prosecution Service has today warned that anyone using coronavirus to threaten emergency workers will face criminal charges, after it released a list of people it had arrested for coughing on police and others.
The cases include Bevan Burke, 22, who was arrested on 3 April in Leicester for breaching the terms of his licence and in the process, coughed at police officers telling them he hoped they died from the virus. He has been sentenced to 42 weeks in prison.
On Friday 3 April in Newton Aycliffe, Tony Brash, 33, purposely coughed on six police officers who were processing his arrest for an earlier incident when he was abusive to a shopkeeper. He pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker and was given a 12-week suspended sentence.
Patrick Delaney, 47, spat at employees in a Lidl in Warrington before spitting on police who responded to the incident on 30 March. Delaney pleaded guilty to the assault and has been jailed for 22 weeks.
Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill QC, said these were just a “small sample of the cases”. “It is disappointing to see charges come in on a daily basis of hard-working police officers, NHS staff and other vital workers, being coughed or spat at, sometimes deliberately exposing them to the risk of infecting them with coronavirus.
“We take these offences immensely seriously and want to make it absolutely clear - that where there is evidence to do so, people will be prosecuted and can face up to one year in prison.”
The CPS has launched an interim charging protocol which sets out that any offence related to coronavirus will be treated as the highest priority. Hill said: “We will not hesitate to bring offenders to justice.”
CPS has also charged people for offences in exploiting coronavirus, including an individual who pretended he was an NHS worker to extort money from elderly residents.
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