A Mansfield man has been jailed for spitting at police officers and claiming he had coronavirus.
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.