Coronavirus-related cases prosecuted in the East Midlands
A Nottingham man jailed for 12 months for blowing in the face of a police officer is just one of the cases seen in the East Midlands since new powers were introduced to protect emergency workers and the public during the coronavirus outbreak.
Paul Leivers was arrested in Mansfield on Thursday 26 March. While in police custody, he blew in the faces of two officers, claiming to be infected with coronavirus. He was charged with two counts of assaulting an emergency worker on Friday 27 March and appeared at Nottingham Magistrates Court the following morning. He was sentenced to six months in prison for each offence, which the judge ordered to be served consecutively, resulting in a 12-month term.
Responding to the case and the sentence passed by the judge, Karen Thompson from the CPS said: “The CPS is taking offending of this nature extremely seriously. Our emergency services are needed more than ever, and we will not hesitate to prosecute when there is evidence people have used coronavirus to threaten them.
"The prosecutor in this case highlighted to the court the serious danger caused by the defendant’s behaviour and the impact of the threat of transmitting the virus on the victims and their service. The court agreed that it was a serious aggravating feature in the case, which is reflected in the deterrent sentence handed down.
"The CPS is committed to keeping our public and emergency workers safe, and will continue to prosecute those who put that safety at risk.”
This case is part of a spate of cases seen by the CPS in the East Midlands. Many involve deliberately spitting or coughing at police officers and claiming to be infected, while under arrest or investigation for separate offences.
A defendant arrested during a domestic incident in Northamptonshire claimed to have coronavirus, refused to use protective equipment and threatened to spit at the officers arresting him, before spitting at an officer in custody. He was charged with obstructing a constable and assault on an emergency worker and faces trial for both offences in June.
A defendant in Nottinghamshire arrested for possession of an axe in public also claimed to have the infection and coughed in the face of the officer arresting him. He was sentenced to 20 weeks for possession of a bladed article and 20 consecutive weeks for assaulting an emergency worker.
A defendant in Leicester who claimed to have the virus before biting a police officer’s arm and spitting at another officer, later bragged about the offence in hospital. She pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker and assaulting with intent to resist arrest and will be sentenced in the crown court in April.
Other cases include a homeless man in Nottingham coughing on support workers and police officers, a man coughing deliberately on a mental health nurse and a man in Lincolnshire spitting and coughing at officers while in police custody.
Janine Smith from the CPS said: “This spate of cases involving coronavirus is extremely concerning and the CPS are applying the new legislation to all cases where there is evidence that suspects have used the virus as a threat, whether or not they are actually infected. The message from the CPS is clear - our prosecutors here in the East Midlands are working hard to give the courts the evidence they need to sentence offenders for their criminal acts. In the context of the current outbreak, these offences are sufficiently serious to attract jail sentences. We need our emergency services now more than ever. Putting them at risk of infection and using the virus as a threat is unacceptable.”
Finally, two defendants pleaded guilty this week to burglary after they targeted the secure bicycle stores at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre, stealing high-value bikes from NHS staff working long shifts treating patients with coronavirus. They also spat on police officers when arrested. Both will be sentenced in April. Janine Smith continued: “The CPS is committed to supporting NHS and emergency workers and will play our part to ensure those who target them in criminal offences will be brought to justice. It was therefore particularly important to charge these defendants and ensure they were dealt with expeditiously through the courts.”
Notes to editors
- Janine Smith is Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS East Midlands
- Karen Thompson is a Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor