Yob spat at police officer who caught Covid becoming extremely unwell two days later
A yob has admitted spitting at a police officer who contracted coronavirus two days later and became extremely unwell.
PC Joe Terry was in the process of arresting drunken Steven Licorish when the 41-year-old spat at him.
The saliva landed on the 47-year-old officer’s vest.
PC Terry developed Covid-19 symptoms 48 hours later and tested positive for coronavirus.
His condition worsened and he had to go into hospital for treatment.
Licorish pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker and being drunk and disorderly in a public place.
But the court heard it could not be proven if he had given PC Terry coronavirus.
Officers were called to Charminster Road in Bournemouth, Dorset, on January 6 to reports of Licorish in the road stopping traffic.
The spitting incident was caught on another officer’s body-worn camera, which was played to the court but without sound.
Nicola Reece, prosecuting, told Poole Magistrates’ Court: “When he spits you can actually hear the spit and the other officer says ‘woah, it landed on your vest mate’.
“We can’t prove he got Covid from this particular spit, but he did contract Covid a few days later and was extremely unwell in hospital.”
James Moore, mitigating, said it was accepted by the Crown that it was not possible to say how the officer became infected with Covid.
Mr Moore said Licorish is remorseful and accepts that he needs to be punished for the spitting offence.
Judge Stephen Nicholls adjourned sentencing for probation reports to be carried out but told Licorish: “The court cannot sentence on the basis of any causal link.
“Whilst spitting at an officer is a serious offence in the Covid pandemic, that’s the extent of the charges, not because the officer has subsequently caught Covid.”
Speaking in January, PC Terry, who has been with the force for 17 years, said he lost more than a stone in weight, hardly slept and was unsure when he would be fit enough to return to work.
He also said he had been very worried about passing it on to his nine-year-old son and his partner, who is high risk due to asthma.
PC Joe Terry said: “I will never know or be able to prove that I contracted COVID-19 from this incident. However, I am extremely angry and upset that he spat at me, exposing me to the risk of infection. Thankfully my family was not infected.
“It took many weeks for me to recover, but thankfully I have now returned to frontline duties. It is totally unacceptable to spit at someone, but to do so in the midst of a global pandemic is deplorable.”
Dorset Chief Constable James Vaughan said: “Spitting at officers is particularly abhorrent during the public health emergency we are all facing.
“While the officers’ infection could not be directly linked to what happened, it puts into perspective the dangerous nature of policing.
“The impact such assaults can have on our officers and staff, their colleagues and their families can have serious consequences and we will do all we can to bring criminal proceedings against those responsible.”
Licorish, from Bournemouth, will be sentenced next month.
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