A DRUNKEN man coughed and spat towards a police officer after saying he would give her Covid-19.

Blackburn magistrates heard the officer, Sgt Linda Haywood, was appalled by the behaviour of David Mott.

In a victim impact statement, Sgt Haywood said she accepted she put herself at risk in the course of her duty and took all possible precautions.

“What I don’t accept is total disregard for my safety by the defendant. The utter contempt he showed towards me both as a police officer and a fellow human being disgusts me,” she said.

Mott, 40, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to using threatening behaviour towards a police officer, possessing an offensive weapon, nunchucks, and possession of cannabis.

He was jailed for a total of 26 weeks.

Imposing an immediate prison sentence the chairman of the magistrates said Mott’s behaviour had been as bad as it could get.

“To put the officer in fear of the virus we currently have was totally unacceptable,” he said.

Peter Bardsley, prosecuting, said the incident started in the early hours of Tuesday when officers saw a taxi carrying three passengers in Green Lane, Padiham. They stopped the vehicle because of the recently announced limitations of people gathering and could immediately see the occupants were drunk.

Mott was in Sgt Haywood’s personal space and she told him to back off.

“He said he wasn’t moving away and if she tried to do anything he would just cough and spit at her,” said Mr Bardsley.

“He then proceeded to do just that and she was forced to pepper-spray him and push him away.

“He was clearly aware that Covid-19 was transmitted by coughing and spitting and put the officer in fear for her personal safety,” he said.

The nunchucks, a martial arts weapon, were found in his bag and a small amount of cannabis was discovered when he was searched at the police station.

When he was interviewed Mott said he didn’t remember being arrested because he had been drinking the previous day.

He said he had drunk four litres of cider before meeting a friend who brought 28 cans of Stella Artois. After drinking those they bought 18 more bottles of Stella and two 75cl bottles of vodka which Mott remembered drinking neat from the bottle.

He said he was aware of Covid-19 but not the newest restriction on more than two people being together.

Gareth Price, defending, said his client recognised the magistrates would find his behaviour extremely distasteful.

“He also recognises the officers were doing their job in particularly difficult circumstances,” said Mr Price.

“They didn’t need to be met by people like him in a drunken state behaving in the way that he did. He realises you will want to send out a message that behaviour like this towards the police will not be tolerated at any time but particularly in the present circumstances.”

Mr Price said Mott had battled against alcoholism but relapsed at the end of 2019 when a relationship broke down. He said the day before the incident Mott had started drinking at 9am and there followed an 18 hour binge.

“He wasn’t aware of the announcement made on Monday night about groups of more than two people,” said Mr Price.

He said the nunchucks had been used to strengthen his client’s wrists after a fall and had been in his possession ever since.

“They were not used to threaten anyone, they were simply in his bag,” said Mr Price.

After the hearing, Sgt Haywood said: “We are in a state of national emergency and the behaviour of this individual is nothing short of disgraceful. We as police officers are here to protect the public and should not be exposed to unnecessary risks in doing so by mindless acts such as this.

"We will not tolerate this type of behaviour.”