Two disgusting thugs who claimed to have Coronavirus and coughed in the face of police officers have been jailed.
Marc Punton and Daniel Taylor are this week starting a spell behind bars after the despicable assaults at the weekend.
The first incident happened on Friday evening when officers attended a hotel in Whitley Bay to respond to a report of damage to a window.
Taylor, 34, was identified as a suspect and taken into custody where he continued to be aggressive and verbally abusive to officers and staff.
It was in the police cells that he then claimed to have Coronavirus before coughing in the face of a Sergeant.
In a separate incident on Saturday evening, officers had been on foot patrol in Gateshead town centre when they found Marc Punton shouting in the street.
They asked him what he was doing out the house before he told them he was on his way to visit his ill mother.
But when officers told him that he could be putting her at risk by making the journey he became verbally abusive.
He was arrested for being drunk and disorderly but then began to cough and spit at one of the arresting officers while claiming to have Coronavirus.
Both men were charged with assault of an emergency worker and pleaded guilty when they appeared before magistrates on Monday morning.
Punton, of Affleck Street, Gateshead, was jailed for 36 weeks while Taylor, of Helena Avenue, Whitley Bay, was jailed for 26 weeks.
Today (Tuesday), Chief Superintendent Neil Hutchison has condemned their actions and said the custodial sentences should act as a stern warning.
“These are despicable assaults that can cause a great deal of distress,” he said.
“The officers, staff and volunteers who proudly pull on their Northumbria Police uniform every day do it because they want to keep people safe and this type of behaviour is completely unacceptable.
“I hope the custodial sentences handed down by the judge underline how seriously offences of this nature are taken by the criminal justice system.
“We will make sure our officers continue to receive the support they need while protecting the communities we serve.”
Chief Supt Hutchison added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the overwhelming majority of you who continue to support all of the emergency services during these unprecedented times.
“Your heartfelt messages and acts of kindness mean a great deal to us all – and highlight the fantastic community spirit we have here in the North East.”
Neither men tested positive for Coronavirus and admitted they had made it up.
They appeared at Bedlington Magistrates’ Court on Monday, where Taylor was also ordered to pay £122 in compensation and Punton was ordered to pay £250.