Saturday, 28 March 2020

Mansfield Man Jailed for Spitting at Police Officers

Paul Leivers, 48, of Tideswell Court, Mansfield, admitted two charges of assault on an emergency worker when he appeared in custody at Nottingham Magistrates' Court this morning.

Leivers was arrested in Mansfield on Thursday night. The circumstances of his arrest are unclear, but it would seem that during his conveyance and arrival at the police station he deliberately spat at a police officer and a custody officer.

As if that behaviour wasn't disgusting enough, he also claimed to be suffering from the highly infectious coronavirus.

Fortunately his claim appears to be false, but the officers concerned had no way of knowing that at the time. In addition to the degradation of being spat upon, they were no doubt fearful of contracting the potentially killer virus.

District Judge Leo Pyle slammed the "despicable and disgraceful" behaviour of the defendant, who has more than 40 previous convictions to his name.

Judge Pyle said: "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 times - even more so at the minute - and the court will not flinch to protect officers."

Leivers, pictured above, was sentenced to 12 months in custody.

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 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."

We commend the Judge's swift and robust sentencing of Leivers.

We hope that it will embolden lay colleagues to apply the full force of the legislation if they face a similar sentencing decision during this time of national crisis.

Nuneaton Thief Jailed After Biting Hospital Security Guard

A Nuneaton man has been jailed for biting a hospital security guard who challenged him over stealing a handbag.

Wayne Harvey, 32, of no fixed abode, admitted charges of theft and assault on an emergency worker when he appeared at Coventry Magistrates' Court on Thursday, 26th March 2020.

The court heard that Harvey, who can accurately be described as a prolific thief and drain on society, walked into the Accident and Emergency Department of George Elliot Hospital, Nuneaton, on Wednesday evening.

Staff were understandably distracted by their work, so Harvey exploited the opportunity to steal a £750 Louis Vuitton handbag from behind the reception desk.

A security guard noticed what had happened and challenged Harvey, who attempted to flee on a bicycle.

Harvey told the security guard that he had a dirty needle in his pocket and the security guard pinned him down. Harvey bit the security guard on the arm as the pair were struggling on the floor.

He was arrested by police shortly afterwards and claimed he had coronavirus.

Magistrates sentenced Harvey, pictured above, to 31 weeks' custody and ordered him to pay £149 victim surcharge.

Gavin Naylor of the CPS said: "We will vigorously prosecute people who steal from and assault those who are putting themselves at risk to help the rest of society during this pandemic.

"The CPS stands behind emergency and essential workers and will not hesitate to prosecute anybody who threatens them as they go about their vital duties.

"Not only did the defendant commit a despicable crime, he also added to the already heightened state of fear and panic by making such a comment and using this threat to avoid arrest.

"The gravity with which the court viewed his offending reflects in the sentence imposed."

PC Nicola Cairns of Warwickshire Police said: "These would have been despicable crimes at the best of times. However, given they were committed against hospital workers who are on the front line in protecting people from the global pandemic makes it even worse.

"We take great pride in supporting our colleagues in the health service at this extremely challenging time and in ensuring hospitals are safe places to work and visit."

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Coronavirus: Warning Against Using Coughs as Weapons

The Crown Prosecution Service has warned against using coughs as weapons during the current coronavirus outbreak.

At a time when the whole nation should be rallying round in support of our emergency services and essential key workers, it is regrettable that a small minority of individuals have adopted the sickening tactic of deliberately coughing or sneezing in their direction.

Home Secretary, the Rt. Hon. Priti Patel MP, posted on Twitter: "Reports of people deliberately coughing on our hardworking emergency workers are appalling. The @cpsuk have clearly said that this is a crime and will not hesitate to prosecute anyone who threatens the vital work of our emergency workers."

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill QC, said: "Emergency workers are more essential than ever as society comes together to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

"I am therefore appalled by reports of police officers and other frontline workers being deliberately coughed at by people claiming to have Covid-19.

"Let me be very clear: this is a crime and needs to stop. The CPS stands behind emergency and essential workers and will not hesitate to prosecute anybody who threatens them as they go about their vital duties."

Darren Rafferty, 45, of Dagenham, east London, yesterday admitted three counts of assaulting an emergency worker after claiming to have coronavirus and directing coughs at Metropolitan Police officers arresting him for another offence. He will be sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Wednesday, 1st April 2020.

David Mott, 40, of no fixed abode, was yesterday jailed for 26 weeks after threatening to spit at a Blackburn police officer who questioned him about why he was in the company of two other people. He was convicted of charges of threatening behaviour, possession of an offensive weapon and possession of cannabis.

There have been more than 20,000 prosecutions for assaults on emergency workers since enhanced legislation came into force in November 2018.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Coronavirus: A Message from the Chairman of the Magistrates Association

Dear colleagues

This is obviously a challenging time for us all and I want to reassure you that the significant contribution that you are making as magistrates is recognised and valued by the senior judiciary, HMCTS and the MA. We are all working together to keep the courts functioning, thus ensuring that the rule of law is maintained. This is fundamental to our democracy. We all need to ensure a calm approach and to continue to play our part in delivering justice.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have all received numerous communications concerning the current pandemic. The situation changes daily but, however it develops, it is essential that we all follow national guidance, which is available on Magistrate Matters (login required). I strongly encourage you to visit it at least once every day for the foreseeable future.

Some of you will need to request leave of absence because you are self-isolating or must look after loved ones and that is entirely correct. Others may be prepared to undertake extra sittings and for that you will receive our most grateful thanks.

New and innovative ways of working, particularly the use of technology to avoid unnecessary contact, are being used. There will inevitably be teething problems, but we must endeavour to work together to overcome these.

A significant amount of advice and guidance has been issued in recent days by the senior judiciary and HMCTS, and there is more to come. We have collated all this guidance into one place, on our website here (login required). We hope this is a useful resource for members and we will keep it up to date as the situation develops. And I repeat my advice to consult Magistrate Matters every day.

We have also been in touch directly with the Senior Presiding Judge, Deputy Senior Presiding Judge, Duncan Webster, and HMCTS and made some practical suggestions - many originating from our members - to help address the current situation. These have been well received and there is no doubt that the senior judiciary and HMCTS staff are doing all that they can to respond to this unprecedented situation. They have our full support. I am grateful to Susan Acland-Hood, Chief Executive of HMCTS, for writing to me to provide an update: her letter is available here (login required).

Obviously, the current situation is very challenging for all involved. If you have any suggestions for improvements that could be made or changes that are needed please email the MA's chief executive, Jon Collins, at [email address]. We really want to hear from our members, and we will ensure that your ideas are passed on to the relevant people.

Finally, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for the important contribution that you are making, keeping the courts running in these very difficult circumstances. The justice system could not continue to function without you, and you should not underestimate the valuable contribution that you personally are making to your local communities. Thank you.

Life is in a surreal state of limbo for every one of us at present and most of the problems which were bothering us a couple of months ago have now paled into complete insignificance. But this horrible situation will not continue for ever. And when it eventually ends, we will be able to look back with pride, in the knowledge that we played our part and did our best when the crisis was at its worst.

Look after yourselves and those you love.

To happier times ahead!

Best wishes.


John Bache JP FRCS
National Chair, Magistrates Association