A MAN who abused police officers in Stratford town centre and threatened to spit at them, claiming to have Covid-19, hepatitis and Aids, has been jailed.
James Magee appeared at Warwick Crown Court over a video link from prison after pleading guilty to three charges of common assaults on emergency workers. Magee (53), who also admitted a public order offence of using threatening words and behaviour, was jailed for ten months.
Prosecutor Lal Amarasinghe said that at 2.15pm on 3rd April, wheelchair-bound Magee became agitated and began swearing because he was having issues getting money from a bank in Stratford town centre because of restricted hours as a result of the coronavirus measures.
A police officer who saw him, did a loop, and when he returned to the scene he saw Magee having an altercation with another man, so approached him and warned him to stop swearing.
Magee reacted by using his scarf to try to tie himself to a bollard, at which the officer told him not to be so childish and to behave himself.
The officer left to carry on with his duties, but a few minutes later Magee was involved in an argument with a man walking his dog in Sheep Street, during which he was heard to shout: “I hope you get the virus.”
After continuing to shout abuse for about five minutes, Magee made his way to the gardens near Cox’s Yard where he began to hurl similar abuse at a woman with two small children.
It was at this point the Police were called, and when the officer told him he was under arrest, the prosecution stated Magee ‘became violent and tried to headbutt him and to spit at him.’
As he threatened to stab the officer, telling him ‘you’re a dead man,’ other officers arrived, and one of those spoke to him to try to calm him down.
Magee was put in a police vehicle, but on the way to a police station he threatened officers that he would spit at them and bite them, claiming to have coronavirus, Aids and hepatitis C. He tried to bite one officer’s hand, so a spit hood was put on him for the rest of the journey.
Observing that the Court of Appeal has said a threat to spit in the current crisis is an aggravating feature, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC indicated that he would propose to pass a deterrent sentence.
“When the police arrived and went through the perfectly proper procedure he felt he was being victimised and treated wrongly – and what he said and what he threatened was aggravated by the situation we find ourselves in.”
“At this time this country faces an unprecedented threat from the Covid-19 virus. The front line of our fight against the threat are the emergency services.
Policing by consent is at the heart of this. Those men and women in the van of the battle will have the proper and timely support of the court.
The message must go out loud and clear that the court will not hesitate to support officers as they go about their work to keep others safe. Those who abuse that will receive swift and condign punishment.
This was done in the context of the lockdown. It was an offence committed against police officers working in the community in these extraordinary times.
In my judgement I must pass a deterrent sentence, a sentence that will send out a clear message that this type of conduct is entirely unacceptable. Only immediate custody is sufficient to mark the gravity of this offending.”
Judge Andrew Lockhart QC
In March this year, a man in Nuneaton was also jailed for assaulting emergency workers, after biting a security officer at a local hospital.