A MAN who coughed and sneezed at police officers and said ‘have some of the coronavirus’ has been jailed.

Martin Barry Turner, aged 50 and of Capstone Place in Bournemouth, was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison at Poole Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, April 2, for offences of assaulting an emergency working, failing to comply with a direction under Covid-19 (coronavirus) legislation and being drunk and disorderly in a public place.

Chief Constable James Vaughan, of Dorset Police, said: “Our officers and staff demonstrate their commitment, courage and dedication to serving our communities on a daily basis and this is particularly the case during the current situation we are facing as a nation.

“They have signed up to protect and help the public, not to coming into work each day with the risk of being assaulted.

“Coughing and sneezing at officers is particularly abhorrent during the public health emergency we are all facing.

“We will not tolerate assaults on our officers or our emergency services colleagues. Offenders will be dealt with robustly and this case demonstrates that we will bring criminal proceedings against those responsible.”

The court heard how around 7am on Wednesday, April 1, officers were called to reports of a man acting in an antisocial manner in Bournemouth's Holdenhurst Road.

When officers approached, Turner – who was drinking from a can of cider and appeared unsteady on his feet – told them he didn't like the lockdown and that he did not care about the restrictions imposed by the Government. He was advised to return to his accommodation and warned he could face a fine or arrest if he continued to breech regulations.

Then, around 12.50pm the same day, officers were called to Boots, Southbourne Grove, where Turner was found close to the store.

Concerned staff said Turner had been disregarding the two-metre social distancing measures in the store – and had become verbally abusive when asked to do so.

At this point, the court heard, Turner was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly in a public place and failing to comply with directions under the Covid-19 (coronavirus) legislation. When he was being cautioned he coughed at officers and sneezed in their direction before saying “have some of the coronavirus."

The defendant was taken to custody and subsequently charged. He did not have a confirmed case of Covid-19 and was not displaying symptoms.