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Coronavirus: suspects claiming spit and cough on Essex Police officers

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Police officers in Essex have been spat at and coughed on by suspects during the coronavirus lockdown.

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Wells said: “Unbelievably, we have seen suspects using the Covid-19 virus as a weapon.

"In just a 12-hour period, we had officers who had been kicked, spat and coughed at after responding to emergency calls from shop workers, who were also just doing their job.”

Coronavirus outbreak
Coronavirus outbreak

“Fortunately incidents like these remain rare but anyone who decides to assault an emergency worker, by any means, will be arrested, will be brought into custody and will be put before a court.

“I’m pleased to say that the majority of people we have spoken to – be it on patrol, engaging with the community or responding to calls for help – have welcomed, thanked and embraced us and recognised the fact that we all need to work together. It’s everyone’s job to stay at home to keep our communities safe, protect the NHS and save lives.”

In an incident on Saturday (March 28) in Leigh-on-Sea, officers responding to reports that a shop worker had been assaulted were kicked, coughed at and spat on.

Andrew Tilley, 28, of Pall Mall, Leigh-on-Sea, appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Monday (March 30) where he pleaded guilty to two counts of assault by beating of an emergency worker and one count of common assault on an emergency worker, assault by beating, drink driving, criminal damage, driving with no insurance or a licence and failing to stop. He is due to be sentenced on Tuesday, April 21.

Also on Saturday, while making an arrest in Ongar for theft of alcohol,

officers reported they were coughed at and bitten.

A 25-year-old man from Ongar arrested on suspicion of theft, common assault on an emergency worker, common assault, criminal damage, failing to stop and possession of cannabis has been released on bail until Wednesday, April 8.

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