A cyclist has been jailed for spitting at a St Stephen’s security guard during the coronavirus lockdown.

Five days into the UK’s second lockdown Darren Walker, 48, became agitated when he was told he could not bring his bicycle inside the Hull shopping centre.

As he was escorted out of the building Walker threatened the guard that he would “knock his head off” before pulling down his facemask and spitting at him saying “I hope you catch Covid”.

The cyclist was wrestled to the ground as shoppers looked on in disbelief and was brought to Hull Crown Court on January 18 to be sentenced for common assault.

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The court saw CCTV footage of Walker entering the St Stephens Shopping Centre at around lunchtime on November 5.

As he walked his bike up to the TK Maxx entrance he became frustrated when he saw that the store was closed due to lockdown restrictions.

It was at this point a security guard approached Walker to remind him that bicycles were not allowed inside the shopping centre.

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“Walker explained that he wanted to purchase gym clothes but was informed that all sports shops were closed due to lockdown,” said prosecuting barrister Katherine White.

“The defendant was argumentative and was unhappy with what was being said. The security guard asked him to leave.”

Walker tried to leave by jumping on his bike and riding off but was pulled back by the security guard who then took hold of the bike and pushed it towards the entrance.

As he followed the security guard towards the Park Street exit Walker shouted “when we get outside I’ll knock your head off”.

Walker then shoved his bike at the doors and continued to argue with the security guard before throwing his right fist up in a “punching motion”.

He then pulled down his facemask and spat at the security officer saying “I hope you catch Covid” before trying to escape on his bike.

“He was chased and detained by the security guard and several of his colleagues before the police attended,” said Ms White.

“The defendant was arrested and cautioned on suspicion of assault with the defendant replying to police that he was sorry.

“He was searched and in his right pocket a knife edged weapon within a sheath was found and in the left pocket was cannabis.”

Walker was brought before Hull Crown Court to be sentenced for common assault, possession of a bladed article and possession of cannabis.

The court heard that the security guard, a husband and father of two children, feared he would catch coronavirus and put his loved ones in danger.

“He couldn’t put into words how the incident affected him,” said Ms White. “His job can be dangerous enough without being threatened in this manner.

“He was worried he may catch Covid and pass it on to his loved ones at home. He started to become distant from his work colleagues because he became paranoid.

“It was well-known that the disease was tearing families apart and he found it disgusting that it would be used as a threat towards another.”

St Stephens shopping centre

Walker was once known to be a “hardened criminal” until he was released from prison in 2013 after serving a five-year sentence.

Mitigating barrister Steven Garth told the court that Walker was “greatly disappointed in himself” to have relapsed to his old ways after spending some years with his back turned on crime.

“It is a record that shows that the defendant’s life has been split into two parts,” said Mr Garth.

“Up until 2012 the defendant was a hardened criminal. He got into trouble often and served numerous prison sentences.

“However, in total contrast since his last release from custody the defendant has kept himself totally away from crime.

“For over seven years he has kept himself out of trouble and these offences are therefore a complete relapse and are out of character for the new individual that the defendant has become.”

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Mr Garth told his honour Judge Mark Bury that Walker had forgotten his lock when he cycled to the shopping centre and was afraid that if he left it unsecured outside the premises it would be stolen.

Addressing Walker in the dock, Judge Bury told him that spitting at the officer was “intolerable” and had he not done so he would not be leaving the dock in handcuffs.

“At the end of the day the guard has a job to do and he was doing it,” said Judge Bury The answer to you forgetting your lock is to go home and get it, or buy another one. It was not to abuse the store security officer.

“You went far too far. You threatened to knock his head off. Had that been all you did then I could have suspended the sentence.

“But, what then happened I’m afraid gets you into prison. You spat at him.

“Had it not been for the spitting I would have been able to allow your liberty but lockdown had just been announced and everybody, even now, is really apprehensive about Covid.

“This behaviour is simply intolerable. People have to know that if they behave like this they will go to prison.”

Walker was sentenced to six months imprisonment for common assault.