Man spat at police officer who became ill with Covid-19

24 February 2021, 16:14 | Updated: 24 February 2021, 16:20

Steven Licorish pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker
Steven Licorish pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker. Picture: Dorset Police

By Patrick Grafton-Green

A man has admitted spitting at a police officer who was diagnosed with Covid-19 just days later.

Steven Licorish, 41, pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker and being drunk and disorderly in a public place.

The victim said he was "angry and upset" at being exposed to the risk of infection while arresting him in Bournemouth on January 6.

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Licorish had been found lying in the middle of a road, but when two officers arrived he was staggering around in the middle and stopping traffic, Dorset Police said.

The officers moved him onto the pavement and he began to shout and swear at them.

Police said as he was being arrested, Licorish "looked directly at one of the male officers and intentionally spat with force, causing a large amount of saliva to land on the officer’s uniform".

The officer developed Covid-19 symptoms two days later, and tested positive for the virus. It is not known if Licorish was the reason for the infection.

He suffered from a "constant searing headache, muscle pains, chronic fatigue and loss of appetite", police said. He began to improve after 15 days, but remained short of breath.

Licorish, of no fixed abode, will be sentenced on Friday, March 19 after pleading guilty at Poole Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

Speaking after the hearing, the officer said: “I will never know or be able to prove that I contracted Covid-19 from this incident. However, I am extremely angry and upset that he spat at me, exposing me to the risk of infection. Thankfully my family was not infected.

“It took many weeks for me to recover, but thankfully I have now returned to frontline duties. It is totally unacceptable to spit at someone, but to do so in the midst of a global pandemic is deplorable.”

Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “Our officers and staff demonstrate commitment, courage and dedication on a daily basis.

“They signed up to help protect the public, not to come into work each day with the risk of being assaulted, attacked or verbally abused.

“Spitting at officers is particularly abhorrent during the public health emergency we are all facing.”

Anna Harvey, Chair of Dorset Police Federation, said: “This incident is a stark reminder of the horrendous incidents officers have to deal with.”

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