Coronavirus: Hartlepool burglar smeared blood on police officer

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The Royal, HartlepoolImage source, Google
Image caption,
Gray was detained by the pub landlord's wife after a break-in

A burglar who smeared blood on a police officer while claiming to have Covid-19 has been jailed for two years.

John Gray, 26, also threatened to spit in the officer's face.

Gray, of Tower Street, Hartlepool, had been detained in the back yard of The Royal pub by the landlord's wife after a break-in, Teesside Crown Court heard.

He continued what the judge called his "disgraceful" behaviour at James Cook University Hospital, where police took him for treatment for a broken jaw.

Gray was sentenced to 16 months in prison for the burglary plus another eight months for assault, both of which he admitted.

Judge Stephen Ashurst said "most right-thinking members of the public will be alarmed by the suggestion that anyone - even in jest - should suggest that they were carrying a potentially lethal virus".

"And, when they are bleeding and threatening to spread the blood on to others and to potentially create innocent victims, it is a matter the court does take seriously," he said.

'Messing about'

Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said Gray refused to wear a mask in hospital and told police: "I'll spit in your face and see how you like it when you have Covid."

When the officer tried to detain him, Gray wiped his bloodied hands on the officer's arms several times "saying he hoped the officer would catch the virus".

Mr Sabiston said the defendant was put in a police van where he spat blood and saliva before saying the vehicle was "contaminated".

He said when Gray was back at the police station, he "said he was sorry and only messing about".

The court heard Gray had a criminal history including commercial burglaries and five assaults and that he did not have coronavirus.

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