Drunk who coughed at police during Covid crisis spared jail

Former Suffolk police officer Daniel Jackson would have been sacked if he hadn't resigned. Stock Pic

John Gibson deliberately coughed on police - but has avoided an immediate jail term - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A drunk who deliberately coughed in the face of a police officer in Colchester during the Covid-19 pandemic has been given a suspended prison sentence sentence.

Sentencing John Gibson at Ipswich Crown Court, Judge Emma Peters said she had dealt with a number of similar cases during the pandemic and her general view was that someone who behaved in the way he did should go straight to prison.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) also warned during the pandemic that coughing specifically against emergency workers is punishable by up to 12 months in prison.

However, during the six months since she deferred sentence on Gibson in December, he had been alcohol free, hadn’t reoffended and had cooperated fully with the probation service.

As such, she felt able to pass a suspended sentence in his case.

“You deliberately coughed in a police officer’s face in August last year when this pandemic was well and truly on us,” said the judge.

She said that anyone working with the public such as police officers deserved respect from the public and it was upsetting for them when they encountered people who behaved in the way Gibson had.

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Gibson, 41, of St Osyth Road, Clacton-on-Sea, admitted assaulting an emergency service worker in August last year.

He was given a seven-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months and ordered to do 80 hours unpaid work.

He was also given a six-month alcohol treatment requirement and ordered to pay the victim of the assault £250 compensation.

Peter Clark, prosecuting, said Gibson had been aggressive and non-compliant when he being booked into custody and had deliberately coughed on a police officer.

He said the defendant had 15 previous convictions for mainly alcohol-related offences.

One of the previous offences was for another assault on an emergency worker.

At a previous hearing, Gibson tried to argue the coughing on the police officer in August hadn’t been deliberate but the court had found against him.

Steven Dyble, for Gibson, said in relation to the three objectives set by the court when sentence was adjourned in December his client had been “100% successful.”

“He has led a blameless existence,” said Mr Dyble.

He said Gibson was in work and was alcohol free. “He has made staggering progress with his issue with alcohol,” he added.

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