South Tyneside man purposely coughed in police officer's face at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic

A police officer has told a court of his distress at being coughed at by a boozed-up crime suspect during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
The case was heard at South Tyneside Law Courts.The case was heard at South Tyneside Law Courts.
The case was heard at South Tyneside Law Courts.

The police officer said the actions of vodka drinking David Wright, 34, of North Street, Jarrow, had made him fear that he, his partner and child may become infected with Covid-19.

In a statement read on his behalf by prosecutor Lesley Burgess to magistrates in South Tyneside, he said: “I have not seen friends or family since the lockdown began.

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“I attempt to distance myself from people and take as many steps as I can while at work to lower my risk of getting the virus.

“Wright has effectively made all these attempts irrelevant and extended any hope of visiting family for the next number of weeks if lockdown is not loosened.

“Although Wright initially stated he does not have any symptoms of the virus he has blatantly attempted to make me fear being infected by intentionally coughing in my face.

“I believe he has done this as he knows I will now worry and be caused unneeded stress for the next number of weeks as I cannot prove if he has the virus.”

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The PC added: “He has shown a total disregard for myself and my family who now have to worry that I may have caught the virus from his intentional assault.

“My partner and child are also now at more risk than they should be down to the assault.”

South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard Wright was arrested after police were called to reports of two men arguing on the evening of Wednesday, May 20.

Ms Burgess said bespectacled Wright was seen kicking a car for which he was arrested and taken to a police station.

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She added: “At the station, [the police officer] describes the defendant moving towards him.

“The defendant states that he is going to cough at him. He coughs straight at his face.

“[The police officer] takes hold of him to stop him doing it again. His colleagues come over. He tries to cough in [the police officer’s] face. He is taken away into the cells.”

The court heard Wright had recently moved to South Tyneside and had got drunk with some girls who had befriended him after he went to exercise at a borough beach.

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Jason Smith, defending, said: “Mr Wright is mortified that he is here. He says that he cannot believe what happened. He has no recollection of what happened.

“He has lost control of his senses. Mr Wright would say this is out of character. He can’t believe his actions. He apologised the next day when he sobered up.”

The hearing was adjourned for reports and Wright, who pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker and causing harassment, alarm or distress, will be sentenced at the same court on Tuesday, July 14.

On leaving court, Wright, who has no previous convictions, told magistrates: “I am genuinely sorry. I don’t want this to ruin my life.”

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