Man jailed for claiming he had coronavirus and spitting at police officer

‘Malicious offence’ forced officer off duty for two weeks

Police patrol parks and tell people not to sunbathe in London as sunny weather hits UK

A man has been jailed for three months for spitting at a police officer after claiming he had coronavirus.

Nicholas Hazell, 36, from Epsom in Surrey, assaulted the officer at a hospital. He had been taken there after falsely claiming to have swallowed some drugs.

Surrey Police said Hazell had been arrested on 7 April in connection with an ongoing investigation.

Following his arrest he told officers he was infected with coronavirus and urinated in the back of the police van.

After being further arrested for criminal damage, he claimed to have swallowed drugs and was taken to hospital.

He spat at an officer while waiting to be seen by medics and was later charged with assaulting an emergency worker.

Hazell was jailed for 12 weeks at Guildford Crown Court for criminal damage and assault.

He was also ordered to pay £250 compensation to the officer, who is self-isolating for two weeks.

Police constable Elena Boafo said: "This was a malicious offence, particularly given the current climate.

"Hazell's actions caused a police officer to be out of work for two weeks, making an emergency services worker unavailable to the people of Surrey.

"I hope this sentence proves that assaults against emergency services workers will not be tolerated."

Several people have been prosecuted with assaulting emergency workers by deliberately coughing on them during the coronavirus outbreak.

Last week, a suspected Covid-19 sufferer, 30-year-old Lance King, was jailed for a year after coughing in the face of two NHS hospital nurses in Staffordshire.

Criminal offenders who cough or spit on victims will face harsher punishments under proposed sentencing changes published by the Sentencing Council on Thursday.

Deliberately coughing on emergency workers can already be punished with up to two years of imprisonment because of changes made by the Crown Prosecution Service during the coronavirus outbreak, but the new proposals would apply to all common assault offences in England and Wales.

Additional reporting by PA

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