A man has been locked up for coughing and spitting at a police officer after claiming he had Covid.
Colin Baker was initially arrested for being drunk and disorderly following an incident in Sunderland.
The constable was wearing a mask at the time and the spittle landed on his clothes.
Now Baker, of Tatham Street, Sunderland, has been jailed for five months.
At Newcastle Crown Court, the 48-year-old pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker, theft and breaching a community protection notice which was served on him in June to prevent anti-social behaviour in the community.
It was also revealed that Baker had coughed at an officer before in similar circumstances. He received a jail term for that offence in July, and did the same thing again just four days after being released from prison in October.
It comes as ChronicleLive continues to campaign for Justice For Heroes – calling for a review of punishments handed to those who attack emergency service workers.
Prosecutor Peter Schofield said the latest offences began with the theft of a £6 bottle of wine from a store in Park Lane in Sunderland.
Later that day, another incident occurred when he became abusive towards paramedics. Police were called and Baker was arrested for being drunk and disorderly.
He was taken to Middle Engine Lane station and put in a holding cell, the court heard. A police officer, who was wearing a mask, was then coughed and spat at.
Mr Schofield told the court: “The defendant said he would cough at him and that he had Covid-19. At that juncture, he did just that. He coughed at the officer.
“He was arrested for assaulting an emergency worker. He said ‘I don’t give a f***.’
“He did spit when the officer was in the cell area. That spittle landed on his clothing. The officer was masked at the time.
“He has weaponised the virus in what he was doing.”
Lorraine Mustard, defending, said Baker had been having alcohol problems when the offences were carried out and he was remorseful for his actions.
Sentencing Baker to five months in jail, Judge Stephen Earl said: “This was akin to going into an airport and declaring you have some sort of explosive device.
“This causes an enormous amount of concern for people. The way you behaved is appalling. You are a 48-year-old man and you should know better by now.
“In these pandemic times, I’m afraid only a custodial sentence is appropriate.”