A trainee paramedic was left facing six months of “torment” after a man with hepatitis C spat blood in his face.

Blackburn magistrates heard the victim was “sick with worry” about what he might have contracted as a result of his contact with drunk Brian Holden.

And prosecutor Catherine Allan said all the paramedic had been trying to do was help someone in difficulty.

“He is clearly very distressed by the whole incident, as anyone would be,” said Miss Allan. “He has had to go through a process which will go on for six months before he knows whether he has picked up any diseases transferred through body fluids. He has been left sick with worry that he may have incurable hepatitis C.”

She said the paramedic was worried about his professional future if he does contract the disease and the incident had also impacted on his personal life.

“He can’t have unprotected sex until it is all over and is worried about diseases such as HV as well as hepatitis,” said Miss Allan.

Brian Michael Holden, 50, of Cherry Tree Lodge, Islington, pleaded guilty to assault and being drunk and disorderly. He was jailed for 16 weeks. Imposing the sentence the magistrates said they had taken into account the degradation suffered by the paramedic.

Miss Allan said the paramedics were called to the Salvation Army Hostel following a report of an intoxicated male who had fallen.

The paramedic managed to get him in the back of the ambulance but he lashed out and started throwing punches.

“He then spat blood in the paramedics face and it went into his mouth and his eye,” said Miss Allan.

Gareth Price, defending, said Holden had no recollection of the incident but accepted the paramedic had no reason to lie.

“When he was charged he said he couldn’t apologise enough,” said Mr Price. “In his more lucid moments he appreciates this was someone who came to help him and he really can’t explain why he behaved in this way.”

Mr Price said drink was at the root of his client’s problems. Earlier this year he had managed to abstain from alcohol and everything was going well for him. He had accommodation at the Salvation Army and was managing to look after himself.

“Unfortunately he was charged with a serious offence and kept in custody for seven days,” said Mr Price. “He was eventually released and the charges discontinued but he lost his accommodation and returned to drink.”