A 23-year-old Indian-origin man in the UK has been sentenced to eight months' imprisonment for lying about having Covid-19 and spitting at a police custody officer, in the first such case heard in a British court.
Karan Singh, from Croydon in south London, pleaded guilty at Croydon Crown Court to three counts of assault on an emergency worker, use of threatening/abusive/insulting words/behaviour to cause harassment/alarm/distress and possession of the Class B or banned drug cannabis.
He was sentenced last week to four months' imprisonment and also an additional four months' sentence, to run consecutively, for being in breach of a suspended sentence - making his total sentence eight months.
"It is never acceptable to spit at an emergency worker, whether it is during these unprecedented times or not," said Superintendent Dan Knowles, of South Area Command at the Metropolitan Police.
"Singh carrying out this vile act and then lying about having coronavirus was a deplorable thing to do and it caused a great deal of distress for the officers and staff who were just trying to do their job and keep London safe. Offenders who think this is an acceptable thing to do will be arrested and placed before the courts, and a prison sentence is a likely outcome," he said.
Judge Alice Robinson presided over the hearing last Friday, during which she indicated that such cases will not be taken lightly.
On March 14, uniformed officers were on patrol when they spotted Singh sitting in a car in a driveway in Croydon.
They recognised him as being disqualified from driving and so they approached the car and spoke to him. Singh denied he was disqualified from driving and stated that he had been given his licence back.
As officers were speaking to him, they noticed a strong smell of cannabis coming from him and the vehicle and asked him about the smell and he admitted smoking cannabis.
As one of the officers began explaining the grounds for a search under the UK's Misuse of Drugs Act, Singh attempted to start the engine of the vehicle and make off from police. However, the vehicle stalled and officers were able to detain him. Officers found a snap bag of cannabis in the driver's foot well and Singh admitted to having cannabis for personal use.
Singh was arrested on suspicion of possession of a Class B drug. Upon searching the car, a further nine bags were found. Singh was taken to a south London police station where he was verbally abusive to the interviewing officers, the Met Police said.
Following the interview, Singh became "aggressive" and stated that he would not go back to his cell. He had to be physically taken back by a custody sergeant and PC, with a DC and Designated Detention Officer (DDO) also stepping in to support their colleagues.
Once at the cell door, Singh continued to struggle with the officers.
The officers managed to get him into the cell and when the door was partially closed, Singh spat directly into the custody sergeant's face. Some of the spit also hit the DDO's lip and the DC's cheek.
Singh then tried to prevent officers from closing the cell door, during which he told the custody sergeant that he had coronavirus. He was further arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker.
Following the incident, Singh was interviewed behind his cell door for safety reasons. He admitted to spitting at the officers stating he did it because he had been waiting for hours and he "got stressed out". When asked if he had coronavirus, he admitted that he did not and stated he said it because he was angry.
At the conclusion of the interview, Singh was asked if he had anything he wanted to say and he said: "Sorry to the officers." The custody sergeant had to go to hospital for checks and had some (none Covid-19 related) vaccines.