90 days from today is Tue, 10 November 2020
22 April 2020
The Chairman of Sussex Police Federation has said that the failure of the courts to jail a man who “coronavirus coughed” in a police officer’s face is “staggering”.
Police arrested Trevor Dangerfield in St Leonards last week on suspicion of breaching the peace. Dangerfield then coughed in the face of an officer before claiming he had Covid-19 and "wanted to infect the officer and his family".
He was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker and charged the next morning. He appeared at Brighton Magistrates' Court on Saturday and pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer.
Dangerfield was sentenced to a 16-week suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay £100 in compensation and a £156 victim surcharge.
Sussex Police Federation Chairman Matt Webb said: “The failure of the courts to recognise the seriousness of this incident and pass an appropriate sentence is staggering.
“Officers have been placed in an impossible position of trying to uphold hastily drawn-up legislation designed to protect the public and the NHS, in addition to their day-to-day business. When they are attacked in this way for simply doing their job, and are not supported by the judicial system, it is a disgrace.
“What sort of message does this send to people like Dangerfield who make police officers fear for the fact that they may be infected with this virus, which has killed thousands of people in this country alone?
“The Police Federation has been fighting for a long time to get assaults of this nature recognised as the serious offences that they are. An attack on a police officer is an attack on society.”
The Independent Sentencing Council recently issued guidelines to courts, allowing tougher penalties for anyone found guilty of assaulting emergency workers or threatening to transmit diseases. Matt said that despite this and the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act, “the courts continue to treat these assaults as low level and hand out derisory sentences”.
He said: “Any assault on an Emergency Service worker should attract a custodial sentence and in the current climate especially to not do so is flabbergasting.”