A vile Covid-infected criminal lured police to a Metro station car park and tried to spit at an officer.
Northumbria Police were contacted by Marin Hoggarth, who informed them he was wanted for a bail offence and would meet them in Sunderland.
When officers arrived at Millfield Metro station to arrest him, the 32-year-old initially appeared compliant as he was handcuffed.
But despite knowing he was infected with Covid, Hoggarth spat at the seats inside the police vehicle and then deliberately aimed at one of the officers.
Prosecutor Joe Cully told the court: “Having been placed in the car he began shouting that he had Covid-19 and demanded to be placed in a van.
“He resisted being put in the rear seat and was kicking the two front seats.”
The court heard while in the car Hoggarth, who has a “horrendous” criminal record of 104 previous convictions, was screaming “I’ve got corona” and started spitting at the front seats of the police vehicle.
Hoggarth then spat twice at one of the officers but missed.
Mr 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 spat at said he had been a member of the police force for six years and added: “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.”
The officer said he lives with someone who is vulnerable, which caused him extra concern.
Hoggarth, of Hylton Road, Sunderland, admitted assault on an emergency worker and was jailed for three months.
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.
Get free court updates straight to your inbox
Sign up to our free newsletter to receive the latest news from the courts in the North East.
It takes just seconds to sign up – just click on this link, enter your email address and follow the instructions.
If you change your mind you can unsubscribe using the link at the bottom of every newsletter we send out.
“Police officers shouldn’t have to put themselves at risk in this fashion but they are doing, on a daily basis through the pandemic.”
The judge said it was “lucky” the officer did not contract coronavirus as a result of the exchange and added: “He easily could have been infected.”
Judge Clemitson 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 accepts 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 judgement.”