A MAN has been jailed for 10 weeks after spitting at a Dorset Police officer who went on to test positive for Covid a few days later.

Steven Licorish's  actions were “considered and deliberate” in relation to the assault on PC Joe Terry in Bournemouth in January during lockdown, according to a judge.

Judge Jonathan Fuller QC told Licorish, 41 and of Bath Road, Bournemouth, that he could not suspend the prison sentence as this “would not mark the seriousness of the offence”.

The judge said while it was accepted that it could not be proved the defendant’s spitting caused PC Terry’s Covid infection, it highlighted the dangers those on the frontline face on a daily basis.

Prosecuting, Richard Elliott said PC Terry and a colleague attended Charminster Road shortly before 7.30am on January 6 to reports of an intoxicated male who was in the road and blocking traffic.

The court heard Licorish, who was homeless at the time, had been drinking all night and was “incapacitated”.

Once officers had identified the defendant, he was arrested in relation to separate matters, which have not been pursued.

Licorish started to make loud abusive and demeaning comments about himself and was repeatedly told to stop and calm down.

While officers were waiting for a police van to arrive, Licorish turned his head and spat at PC Terry, with the spittle landing on his stab vest.

A victim impact statement from PC Terry said he developed Covid symptoms days after the incident and tested positive.

He suffered severely from the disease for around two weeks and subsequently struggled due to damage caused to his lungs - able to run for just three minutes on a treadmill before coughing severely.

Mitigating, Richard Martin said Licorish is “acutely aware of how disgusting” his actions were.

Referencing the defendant’s state of intoxication, the barrister said: “Did he really know or did he really consider what he was doing in the context of the pandemic in January of this year?”

Mr Martin said since the offence Licorish had found settled accommodation through support services and he needed help to tackle his alcohol problem.

Licorish previously pleaded guilty at Poole Magistrates’ Court on February 23 to charges of assault by beating of an emergency worker and being drunk and disorderly in a public place in Charminster Road, Bournemouth, on January 6.

He was fined £50 for the drunk and disorderly offence at the magistrates’ court on March 19.

In sentencing the defendant for the assault, Judge Fuller QC said: “You were in an extreme state of intoxication.

“You were at a very low point in your life but it is absolutely no excuse for what you then did.

“As the officers stayed calm, making sure you were safe and trying to help you, you very deliberately filled you mouth with spittle and moved your head to your left and deliberately spat at the upper part of PC Terry’s body.

“Immediately it can be seen the concern that the officers had.

“The people who are on the frontline of public duty, whether in hospital or police officers such as these, face daily the dangers of contracting Covid.”

Judge Fuller said the PC Terry contracted Covid but there was no evidence in the case that Licorish’s actions had caused the infection.

The judge, noted the report of a probation officer, adding the case was one in which “such actions as yours highlight, during the time of the pandemic, the very real dangers that people on the frontline face and your actions raised that danger”.

“These sort of actions increase the risk of infection and also psychological harm for those people who are on the receiving end of such actions,” said Judge Fuller QC.

“You, I know, are genuinely remorseful for what you did. You know of what disgust members of the public will have for such actions, particularly when people are there assisting you.”

Mr Martin asked the judge to consider a suspended sentence, but Judge Fuller QC said: “I am not in a position to suspend the prison sentence. In my view it would not mark the seriousness of the offence. These actions were considered and deliberate.”