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“Coronavirus coughers” could face two years in jail

A man from Dagenham pleaded guilty to the offence yesterday

People who deliberately cough on emergency workers, while claiming to have coronavirus, will now be charged with assault.

The Crown Prosecution Service made the announcement following reports of police, shop workers and vulnerable groups being intentionally coughed on by people saying they have the disease. 

One case involved a man in Dagenham who admitted to coughing on police while saying he had Covid-19. 

Darren Rafferty, 45, of Bentry Close, pleaded guilty to three counts of assaulting an emergency worker after coughing on police officers who were arresting him for another offence. 

Anyone specifically targeting emergency workers could be punished by up to two years in prison. 

“Emergency workers are more essential than ever as society comes together to tackle the coronavirus pandemic,” said Max Hill QC, Director of Public Prosecutions.

“I am therefore appalled by reports of police officers and other frontline workers being deliberately coughed at by people claiming to have Covid-19.

“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.”

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