Man jailed for spitting blood in police officer's mouth while claiming to have Covid-19

30 June 2020, 18:31

Samuel Konneh, 39, has been jailed for two years for spitting at police and claiming to have coronavirus
Samuel Konneh, 39, has been jailed for two years for spitting at police and claiming to have coronavirus. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

A man who spat blood into the mouth of a police officer while claiming to have coronavirus has been jailed for two years.

Police were called to the home of Samuel Konneh, 39, after he began harassing a woman who rebuffed his attentions on March 26, three days after the UK went into lockdown.

But when police broke down his door in Easthope Close, south Manchester, it hit Konneh, who was stood behind it, in the mouth, causing him to bleed.

He then popped his head through the gap and spat at the officers.

The spray of blood and spit went into the mouth of Pc Chee Chan while another officer, Pc Thomas Stewart, was also hit in the face, with two others hit on the forehead, as they went to arrest him, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Father-of-two Konneh, originally from Sierra Leone, pleaded guilty to four counts of assault on emergency workers and one count of stalking at an earlier hearing.

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The defendant, who has paranoid schizophrenia and 17 previous convictions, appeared in court via videolink from HMP Forest Bank in Salford for sentence on Tuesday.

Judge Richard Mansell QC said: "Police officers and other emergency workers have literally taken their lives in their hands in the last three months by continuing to work.

"This is a quite appalling piece of conduct, quite deliberate as well and calls for deterrent sentences, particularly in the current climate of Covid-19."

Earlier Andrew Mackintosh, prosecuting, told the court how Konneh had become obsessed with a female friend, who was openly gay, and began stalking her, calling her a "sexy b**ch" and bombarding her with hundreds of phone calls and messages.

He approached her in the street and tried to grab her phone but a woman and a male neighbour intervened before Konneh ran home and police were called.

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Mr Mackintosh said when officers arrived Konneh was shouting from the upstairs window, "saying he had the virus and started to cough in an exaggerated manner", the prosecutor said.

He added: "Suddenly the door opened a short distance and the defendant appeared. The defendant then spat at the officers, covering them with blood and spit. Pc Stewart felt spray in his face. Pc Chan felt droplets go into his mouth.

"The other two were hit on their foreheads."

In victim impact statements, Pc Stewart said he had the "heartbreak" of having to isolate from his daughter aged two, and Pc Chan had to do the same from his wife, and was still waiting for the results of blood tests.

Both officers were back on duty the next day despite the trauma as the "frontline" was "stretched", the court heard, but both had to wait weeks to get negative test results for the virus.

Adam Brown, mitigating, said Konneh's mental illness meant he "misread the signals" from the woman he was obsessed with and had been drinking to excess and not taking his anti-psychotic medication at the time, but now showed "genuine remorse".

He added: "The defendant accepts he behaved appallingly towards these officers."