October 1, 2020 3.01 pm This story is over 43 months old

Rough sleeper jailed for coughing at police

He threatened to infect them with COVID-19

A man who deliberately coughed on a police custody worker, threatening to infect him with COVID-19, has been jailed.

Philip Malone was taken into the custody suite at Lincoln Police Station in the early hours of the morning after being arrested for attacking another rough sleeper with a hammer.

Malone, 43, then became disruptive and turned on the custody officer who was on the other side of the custody suite desk.

Phil Howes, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court “The defendant was taken to the police station at Lincoln. At the custody desk he deliberately coughed on the custodian who was dealing with the booking in procedure.

“The custodian had to take details from Malone who became disruptive and animated. He threatened to infect the custodian.”

Malone told the man “I live on the streets and I’ll infect you.”

Malone was then restrained with a spit hood being placed over his head to prevent him repeating the assault.

Tests carried out later revealed that Malone did not have COVID-19 and the custodian was given the all clear after he was also tested.

Mr Howes said that Malone was initially arrested following an incident on Lincoln High Street when he attacked a fellow street sleeper with a hammer.

The victim was later taken to hospital for treatment for minor injuries but refused to make a statement to police.

Malone later told police that there was a long-standing dispute between the two men.

The court was told that Malone had 40 previous convictions for 131 offences.

Malone, of Cannon Street, Lincoln, admitted assaulting an emergency worker as a result of the incident on March 19 this year. He also admitted affray.

He was jailed for six months for assaulting an emergency worker and given a 12 month consecutive sentence for affray making a total of 18 months.

Judge Catarina Sjolin Knight said: “In the custody suite you were distressed and in that emotional state you coughed on the custodian. This was prior to the first lockdown although it was clear by that time that the disease was a killer.

“The assault was an unpleasant one. Fortunately you didn’t have Covid and the custodian did not contract it. The COVID threat was particularly scary at that time.”

George Wills, for Malone, said he was a drug user but was working to deal with his habit.

He said Malone has suffered a number of family bereavements recently and became emotional when he arrived at the police station.