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Man Jailed For 6 Months After Coughing on a Police Officer and Claiming He Had COVID-19

Police say this is the first known case of a custodial sentence being given for a "COVID-19 related incident involving a police officer". Chief Superintendent Helen Harper said she hoped the prison sentence sends the message that such unacceptable behaviour "will not be tolerated".

Adam Lewis, 55, was sentenced to six months in prison for assault at Westminster Magistrates' Court, after he deliberately coughed on a police officer, claiming that he had COVID-19. Police say that a bobby was brought to Lewis's attention by a member of the public who claimed to have seen him trying to open various car doors, on 31 March 2020.

When the Police Constable, who was on cycle patrol at the time, approached Lewis and attempted to detain him in order to perform a search Lewis shouted, "I am covid [sic] and I am going to cough in your face and you will get it".

​Lewis proceeded to cough on the Police Constable and then fell onto the floor, as the officer reportedly sought to keep Lewis at a distance. As the constable sought to restrain him while bending down onto the floor, Lewis then "attempted to cough up phlegm, before trying to spit in his face", according to the police report. He also threatened to bite him.

Other colleagues from the Metropolitan Police Service arrived on the seen and Lewis was ultimately arrested on suspicion of causing grevious bodily harm.

Lewis was ultimately convicted of assault.

Chief Superintendent Helen Harper, from Area West Command Unit, said, "thankfully these types of incidents are a rare occurrence ", noting her hope that the length of the sentence would send a strong message that such behaviour won't be tolerated.

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