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CPS brings coronavirus criminals to justice
09 April 2020
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
Here's 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.”