CPS brings coronavirus criminals to justice

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A number of people who have spat or coughed at emergency workers, or exploited coronavirus for their own gain, have been charged and prosecuted recently.

Max Hill, Director of Public Prosecutions, has made it clear that anyone using coronavirus to threaten emergency and essential workers would face criminal charges, as a snapshot of the cases the CPS has charged and prosecuted recently shows.

Spitting or coughing on essential workers

We have provided a sample of some of the cases which the CPS has charged and prosecuted recently for spitting or coughing on essential workers, claiming that they have coronavirus.

  • Bevan Burke, 22, was arrested on 3 April in Leicester for breaching the terms of his licence and in the process, coughed at police officers telling them he hoped they died from the virus. He has been sentenced to 42 weeks in prison for two counts of assaulting an emergency worker and assault by beating.
  • On Friday 3 April in Newton Aycliffe, Tony Brash,33, purposely coughed on six police officers who were processing his arrest for an earlier incident when he was abusive to a shopkeeper. He pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker and was given a 12-week suspended sentence.
  • Scott Crook, 29, and Stewart Motley, 29, stole £32.91 from an Alzheimer’s charity box from a closed climbing centre in Leicester on Saturday 4 April. Despite being pursued by police, Motley responded to the officer trying to arrest him by coughing directly in his face. Motley and Crook have been sentenced to a collective 44 weeks in prison as a result.
  • On 28 March when Wesley Upton, 26, was arrested for breaching a criminal order in Huntingdon, he spat at police telling them he was infected with coronavirus and hoped that everyone around him would be infected. Upton admitted his actions and was sentenced to six months in prison.
  • Patrick Delaney, 47, spat at employees in a Lidl in Warrington before spitting on police who responded to the incident on 30 March. Delaney pleaded guilty to the assault and has been jailed for 22 weeks.

As well as these horrific cases of people putting essential workers at risk by coughing or spitting at them, we have seen a number of defendants charged in relation to other offences exploiting coronavirus.

The criminals exploiting coronavirus for their own gain

Despite many people following the clear instructions to only leave your house in an emergency, a few are using the current pandemic to commit criminal offences and put others at risk.

  • Ashaq Sattar, 40, knocked on the doors of elderly and vulnerable people in Kirklees, pretending that he was an NHS volunteer and would collect their medicine for a small fee. He pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud and was sentenced to 52 weeks in prison.
  • On 28 March, Steven Mackie, 53, kept approaching people stood in a queue to get into a Tesco in Stalybridge. Despite police taking him home, 15 minutes later he returned to the same shop and was causing a nuisance. Mackie was given a £500 fine for breaching the restrictions on movement.
  • Jason Harewood, 27, pleaded guilty to contravening the requirement as to the restriction of movement during the emergency period and drug related offences, after he was caught distributing drugs on his pedal bike in Islington on Friday 3 April with no reason to be outside.
  • Kierran Stevenson, 32, was given a 12-week prison sentence after he posted on social media that he was going to go walk around a hospital in Aylesbury to see the extent of the coronavirus pandemic for himself. He then posted photos on Facebook at the hospital and images of hospital corridors on 30 March, and commented that staff were not taking safety measures seriously.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC, said: “Although this is only a small sample of the cases that we have prosecuted over the last week, it clearly demonstrates the number of people who are determined to break the law in the most critical of times.

“It is disappointing to see charges come in on a daily basis of hard-working police officers, NHS staff and other vital workers, being coughed or spat at, sometimes deliberately exposing them to the risk of infecting them with coronavirus.

“We take these offences immensely seriously and want to make it absolutely clear- that where there is evidence to do so, people will be prosecuted and can face up to one year in prison.

“We recently launched our interim charging protocol where we set out that any offending related to coronavirus will be treated as the highest priority, and we will not hesitate to bring offenders to justice.”

Notes to editors

  1. Bevan Burke (15/11/1997) was charged with two counts of assault of an emergency worker, and assault by beating in relation to an offence on 03/04/2020. He was also charged with theft from a shop in relation to an incident on 10/01/2020. On Monday 6 April Burke pleaded guilty to these offences at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court and was sentenced to 42 weeks in prison as well as £200 compensation.
  2. Tony Brash (27/06/1986) was charged with three counts of common assault of an emergency worker and one count of using threatening/abusive/insulting words/ behaviour to cause harassment/alarm or distress in relation to an incident on 03/04/2020. On Monday 6 April he pleaded guilty to these offences at Newton Aycliffe MC and was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison suspended for a year.
  3. Scott Crook (14/03/1979) pleaded guilty to burglary other than dwelling-theft and obstruction or resisting a constable in the execution of duty on Monday 6 April at Leicester MC and was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison and £122. Stewart Motley (18/08/1980) pleaded guilty to burglary other than dwelling-theft and common assault of an emergency worker on Monday 6 April at Leicester MC and was sentenced to 32 weeks in prison and £149.
  4. Wesley Upton (09/03/1994) was charged with harassment-breach of a restraining order on conviction and breach of a non-molestation order (7-8 March) and he was also charged with racially/religiously aggravated intentional harassment alarm/distress-words, common assault of an emergency worker and using threatening/abusive/insulting words/behaviour to cause harassment/alarm/distress in relation to an offence on 27 March 2020. He pleaded guilty to these offences on 30 March at Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court and was sentenced to six months in prison.
  5. Patrick Delaney (23/12/1972) was charged with assault by beating and assault by beating of an emergency worker in relation to an offence on 30 March. He pleaded guilty to these offences on 31 March at Warrington Magistrates’ Court and was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison and £122.
  6. Ashaq Sattar (24/11/1979) was charged with 4 counts of fraud by false representation and possession/control article for us in fraud in relation to an offence 24 March. He pleaded guilty to these offences on 25 March at Leeds Magistrates’ Court and was sentenced to 52 weeks in prison.
  7. Steven Mackie (30/10/1966) was charged with contravening the requirement as to the restriction of movement during emergency period. He pleaded guilty to this on 30 March at Tameside Magistrates’ Court and was given a £500 fine.
  8. On Monday 6 April at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court Jason Harewood (21/09/1992) pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply a controlled drug of class B and contravening the requirement as to restriction of movement during the emergency period in relation to an incident on Friday 3 April. He will be sentenced on 4 May.
  9. On 2 April at Oxford Magistrates’ Court Kierran Stevenson (31/08/1987) pleaded guilty to causing a public nuisance and contravening requirement as to restriction of movement during emergency period and was given a 12-week prison sentence. He was also ordered to pay £300 compensation to the hospital trust.

You can read the CPS and NPCC joint interim charging protocol on this website.

Further reading