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Woman who coughed at police officer claiming she had Covid-19 is jailed

PUBLISHED: 16:44 04 August 2020 | UPDATED: 18:08 04 August 2020

Saskia Francis, 39, of New Cheveley Road, Newmarket, was jailed for assaulting a police officer after coughing at him claiming she had Covid-19

Saskia Francis, 39, of New Cheveley Road, Newmarket, was jailed for assaulting a police officer after coughing at him claiming she had Covid-19

Archant

A Suffolk woman who repeatedly coughed at a police officer after claiming she had coronavirus has been jailed for seven months.

Saskia Francis, of New Cheveley Road, Newmarket, admitted assaulting a police officer when she appeared at Ipswich Crown Court  Picture: ARCHANTSaskia Francis, of New Cheveley Road, Newmarket, admitted assaulting a police officer when she appeared at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: ARCHANT

Sentencing 39-year-old Saskia Francis Judge Rupert Overbury described her behaviour as “nothing short of disgusting”.

“You chose to deliberately cough in close proximity in the direction of the police officer’s face not once but persistently several times after saying you had Covid-19,” said the judge.

He said the incident had happened in May at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic was killing tens of thousands of people and the officer concerned would have suffered some psychological distress because it wasn’t known if Francis had the virus.

Francis, of New Cheveley Road, Newmarket, admitted assaulting a police officer and assaulting a 19-year-old woman by beating.

The court heard that police officers were called at around 6.30am on May 28 to The Avenue, near the junction with High Street in Newmarket.

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A woman had been assaulted by Francis as she walked to work and suffered an injury to her finger.

When police went to a local medical centre to arrest her she said she had coronavirus and started coughing in their direction.

She told officers she had grabbed the shoulder of the victim of the assault by beating offence and confronted her because she thought she had been kissing her boyfriend.

The court heard that Francis had 216 previous convictions including 133 offences of theft.

Lynne Shirley, for Francis, who appeared at Ipswich Crown Court via a prison video link, said her client had had mental health difficulties and had been diagnosed with having an emotionally unstable personality disorder.

She said that on the day in question Francis had wrongly believed that the victim of the assault had been romantically linked to her partner.

Miss Shirley said her client was upset when she was arrested by officers on suspicion of attempted robbery - a charge that she denied and was not proceeded with.

She said that while Francis had been in custody she had been locked up 23 hours a day and had found the experience “horrendous “.


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