A MAN who spat at police officers claiming he had coronavirus has been jailed.

Callum Heaton, 23, was arrested for being drunk and disorderly after police were called to a report of a disturbance on Cog Lane in Burnley in the early hours of Saturday morning.

During the arrest Heaton spat at two officers, claiming he was infected with COVID-19.

Police said Heaton, of Cog Lane, Burnley, continued to do so while he was being taken to custody.

Heaton appeared at Burnley Magistrates Court on Monday, and pleaded guilty to two counts of assault on an emergency worker and one of criminal damage.

He was jailed for a total of 12 months.

A police spokesman said: “This was a particularly offensive and dangerous offence at this particular time spitting at officers.

“It is totally unacceptable that police and other front line workers who are doing their best to keep our communities safe are treated like this.

“It is good to see that the court are taking these type of incidents seriously.”

The latest incident comes after 40-year-old David Mott was jailed for 26 weeks for coughing and spitting 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 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, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to using threatening behaviour towards a police officer, possessing an offensive weapon, nunchucks, and possession of cannabis.

Peter Bardsley, prosecuting, said the incident started in the early hours of last 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.