A burglar who claimed to have Covid-19 before smearing blood over a cop’s arm and threatening to spit in his face has been jailed for two years.
26-year-old John Gray first started shouting threats about the coronavirus when he was ‘bravely’ held by the landlord’s wife in the backyard of The Royal pub, in Hartlepool, after a burglary, a Teesside judge said. Crown Court Friday.
Gray then threatened the two officers who responded before continuing his “shameful” behavior at James Cook University Hospital, where police took him for treatment for a broken jaw.
Peter Sabiston, a prosecutor, told the judge how Gray refused to wear a mask in the hospital and said to the police, “I 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.”
Sabiston said the defendant was put in a police van where he spat blood and saliva before saying the vehicle was “contaminated”.
The prosecutor said that when Gray was back at the police station, he said “sorry and just messed around”.
Stephen Constantine, defensively, said his client did not have the virus.
Gray admitted burglary, twice the assault of a rescuer and criminal damage to a police van when he appeared in court with a video link.
Judge Stephen Ashurst sentenced him to 16 months’ imprisonment for burglary and another eight months for attacks on officers.
Judge Ashurst told him, “I want to make it very clear that rescuers, whether firefighters, ambulance personnel or police officers, have the right to go to court for protection.
“Most right-thinking citizens will be alarmed by the suggestion that everyone – even jokingly – should suggest they were carrying a potentially deadly virus.
“And if they bleed and threaten to spread the blood on others and make potentially innocent victims, the court will take the matter seriously.”
The judge said, “You refused to wear a mask in the hospital, and your disgraceful behavior that began in the backyard of The Royal pub continued when you threatened to spread the blood on your arms.
“And in fact, you rubbed your bloodied wrist against the arm of the officer who was holding you.”
“And when you were in the police van, you made threats again and spread the body fluids around the van and said it was contaminated.”
The court heard how Gray, from Tower Street, Hartlepool, has a long criminal history, including commercial burglaries and five attacks.
He was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in 2018 after a knife attack and was recalled to prison after his arrest at The Royal on March 30.