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‘Disgusting’ spate of incidents sees people coughed on in Islington amid coronavirus pandemic

PUBLISHED: 13:22 27 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:33 27 March 2020

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL. A woman coughs. Picture: PA Images

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL. A woman coughs. Picture: PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

A disgusting spate of incidents has seen people deliberately coughing on others in Islington during the coronavirus pandemic.

Once incident saw kids on bicycles cough on people in the line for Boots in Newington Green last week, while another allegedly saw a young person purposefully cough on a woman in a shop.

This comes as the director of public prosecutions, Max Hill, warned on Thursday that anyone using coronavirus to threaten emergency and essential workers would face serious charges.

Mr Hill issued the warning after reports in recent days of police, shop workers and vulnerable groups being deliberately coughed at by people claiming to have the disease.

On Friday last week a man named Marc was among those who were coughed on in Newington Green.

He told the Gazette: “I was waiting in the Boots line for about an hour an then a bunch of kids, aged about eight to 13, cycled on the footpath passed us all and did a joking cough on everyone. Everyone screamed.

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“The more I thought about it I thought how disgusting and dangerous it was because there were elderly people in the line. It’s just disgusting and not acceptable in this situation or any situation.”

He says the coronavirus pandemic is “showing the best and worst in people”.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) says using coronavirus to threaten someone is a criminal offence, and assaults specifically against emergency workers are punishable by up to 12 months in prison.

Coughs directed as a threat at other key workers or members of the public could be charged as common assault.

Mr Hill said: “Let me be very clear: this is a crime and needs to stop. The CPS stands behind emergency and essential workers and will not hesitate to prosecute anybody who threatens them as they go about their vital duties.”

Darren Rafferty, 45, admitted three counts of assaulting an emergency worker on Wednesday after claiming to have coronavirus and directing coughs at Met police officers arresting him for another offence. He will be sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Tuesday.

David Mott, 40, was jailed on Wednesday after threatening to spit at police in Blackburn.


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