A suspected Covid-19 sufferer has been jailed for a year after coughing in the face of two NHS hospital nurses.
Lance King was taken to the Royal Stoke University Hospital on Monday before coughing on the two A&E workers just after 1.30pm, Staffordshire Police said. The 30-year-old also urinated on the floor of the cubicle and scribbled on himself and items within the cubicle with a pen from the nurses’ desk, the force added.
He started behaving erratically, moving around the A&E department, and was told to return to his cubicle by a staff nurse and clinical support worker. They tried to keep their distance, but he moved forwards and coughed in the nurse’s face.
He then started to make a noise in his throat as if he was about to bring up something and spit at her colleague. He laughed as he moved closer to her before turning around and urinated all over the floor when they closed the cubicle.
District Judge Kevin Grego said: ‘There are occasions when unusual circumstances, under extreme circumstances, call for an extraordinary approach, and this is one of those occasions.
‘Whatever your circumstances were, whether you felt paranoid, or miserable or fed up, you should not have been out in any event to behave in the way you did towards emergency workers.
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‘They all provide an absolutely invaluable service to society. They do not look at the quality of the person who they are asked to deal with.
‘They get on with the job. If they did you would not have been spoken to or seen anyone while at the hospital with your behaviour.
‘In a time of crisis like this people like you need to understand that emergency workers will be protected and those who behave in this way towards emergency workers can expect the full weight of punishment on their shoulders.’
King, of no fixed address, was sentenced at the North Staffordshire Justice Centre on Wednesday after pleading guilty to assaulting an emergency worker and criminal damage.
The force said a 49-year-old man has also been charged with persistently making use of a public communication network to cause annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety after allegedly making more than 50 calls to police and ambulance services between April 6 and 7.
He is due to appear in court on May 7.
Assistant Chief Constable Simon Tweats said: ‘Thankfully, on the whole people are complying with Government guidelines. However, as these cases show, we will take enforcement action when required.
‘Coughing on nurses who are working to save people’s lives is totally unacceptable.
‘The message remains clear; stay at home and follow the guidelines. We don’t want to have to take action but we will do so if required. Particularly against a small minority who repeatedly choose to put other lives at risk.’
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