A man from the Thames Valley has been sentenced to 22 weeks in prison after he coughed on a police officer and assaulted a woman.

Alex Wood, 37, of Bridge End, Dorchester-upon-Thames, coughed on the Thames Valley Police officer when they had arrived to arrest him following an assault in Wantage on March 24.

When Wood was asked why he had coughed in the face of the officer – who was wearing a protective face mask – he replied that a “mask would not stop anything”.

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Wood appeared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court a day later on Wednesday, March 25, where he pleaded guilty to one count of assault by beating, one count of assaulting an emergency worker and one count of criminal damage to property.

He was jailed for 12 weeks for assault by beating and 10 weeks for assaulting an emergency worker to run consecutively.

He was also sentenced to four weeks behind bars for criminal damage to run concurrently, giving a total sentence of 22 weeks’ imprisonment.

Deputy local policing area commander for South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse, chief inspector Matt Bullivant, said: “Wood made this deliberate act, seemingly trying to threaten an officer with potentially contracting something from him.

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“This is obviously totally inappropriate behaviour at any time, but particularly at this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, and I’m pleased the courts have dealt with this appropriately, and also for the victim of the offence that we were called to initially.”

Chairman of Thames Valley Police Federation, Craig O’Leary, said: “Wood had assaulted a woman and then by his actions and words, deliberately coughed at the arresting officer.

“Coughing on an officer deliberately in the current climate is completely unacceptable.

“Our officer maintained his professionalism and was wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment.

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“However, the behaviour of Wood was absolutely abhorrent, and I am pleased that the courts saw the seriousness of all these offences and gave him an immediate custodial sentence.

“Our police officers and other members of the emergency services are there to protect the public, and behaviour such as this towards them will not be tolerated.

“I am also pleased that the officer is receiving welfare support from their local management team.”