Homeless man pleaded to be locked up after refusing to leave King Street in South Shields

A homeless man asked magistrates in South Tyneside to jail him when he appeared before them to admit to swearing at police and spitting in their car.

By Gareth Crickmer
Friday, 21st August 2020, 7:00 am

Anthony Spurgatis, 37, of no fixed abode, pleaded, “Lock me up so I’ve got somewhere to go”, before telling them: “You may as well send me to prison.”

A court heard he refused to move from King Street, South Shields, when ordered by officers – then spat in their car when arrested, a court heard.

Spurgatis was first requested to move by a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), who spotted him sitting next to a smashed wine bottle at 3pm on Friday, July 17.

King Street, South Shields. Picture by FRANK REID

He threw a legal Notice to Leave to the ground and within earshot of shoppers swore at the police called to the scene.

Saliva was then spotted on a police vehicle seat by officers who had tried to force him inside, South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard.

Although it may have been an unintentional leakage of saliva rather deliberate, it left police chiefs with a £100 clean-up bill.

Prosecutor Alan Davison said: “You’ll see from his record that Mr Spurgatis has not been in trouble for nine years.

“Mr Spurgatis appeared to be drunk and swore and refused to leave the area.

“When police officers went to put him in their car, there was saliva on the upholstery, and they realised he had spat.

“He swore at police, in earshot of people passing. He was interviewed and seemed drunk.”

Amy Hossack, defending, said: “He had a partner and a house but in July last year, everything went drastically south.

“Mr Spurgatis says that he was sitting on the pavement, minding his own business.

“He admits that he threw the notice to the ground but says he was treated roughly by police.

“He doesn’t admit that spitting or salivating was done recklessly, he accepts that he was slavering.”

Spurgatis pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage, failing to comply with a section 35 direction and causing harassment, alarm or distress.

He was given a six-month conditional discharge and must pay Northumbria Police £50 compensation.

There were no court costs or victim surcharge.

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