'Despicable' man who spat at police while claiming to have coronavirus jailed for a year

28 March 2020, 16:40

Paul Leivers was jailed for a year on Saturday after spitting at officers
Paul Leivers was jailed for a year on Saturday after spitting at officers. Picture: Nottinghamshire Police

By Megan White

A "despicable and disgraceful" man who admitted to spitting at police officers while claiming to have coronavirus has been jailed for a year.

Paul Leivers, 48, admitted two counts of assault on an emergency worker after being arrested in Mansfield on Thursday.

Nottingham Magistrates' Court heard Leivers did not have coronavirus or any symptoms of the disease.

It is believed to be one of the first such cases in the country since new powers were given to police last week.

Sentencing the defendant on Saturday, District Judge Leo Pyle said: "It was in the public interest to deal with the matter sooner rather than later.

"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 time, even more so at the minute and the court will not flinch to protect officers."

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 to 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."

The force said the officers who were spat at are safe and well.

It comes as another man in appeared at Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court accused of spitting blood in the face of police officers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Samuel Konneh, 38, s accused of four counts of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent relating to the spitting at the officers.

They were responding to reports of a woman being assaulted on Yew Tree Road, Withington, south Manchester on Thursday when the defendant allegedly spat at them.

The defendant is also accused of one count of stalking and one of battery, relating to a female victim.

All the offences alleged to have taken place on Thursday. No pleas were entered.

Konneh, of Easthorpe Close, Withington, was remanded into custody to appear at Manchester Crown Court on April 24.

Greater Manchester Police have also charged another man with coughing at an officer while claiming to have coronavirus.

Mateusz Rejewski, 33, of no fixed abode, has been charged with one count of common assault on an emergency service worker and one count of breaching a dispersal notice.

Police were responding to an incident in Piccadilly Gardens in central Manchester on Thursday afternoon and detained the suspect for breaching a dispersal order.

Rejewski allegedly coughed at the detaining officer while claiming he had got coronavirus. The officer has since been self-isolating as a precaution.

He is in custody and is due to appear at Manchester Magistrates' Court on April 28.