Jailed for spitting at police and saying he has Covid-19, then claiming it was a joke

An abusive son who spat at police officers and told them he had Covid-19 after they were called to a domestic incident has been jailed for six months.

Brandon Wallace, 21, later told officers he was joking about coronavirus but it emerged he was not allowed into the dock for his court hearing because he was displaying symptoms.

He had recently been kicked out after a series of clashes at home and snapped again when he was told he could not enter the Barking address to collect his things.

On Monday he admitted threatening his mother Debbie Cook, breaking her garden gate and damaging her window frame, Barkingside Magistrates’ Court heard.

He left officers fearing for their health after spitting at them and saying he had coronavirus, then telling them it was just a ‘joke’ during interview.

Because he was displaying Covid-19 symptoms he did not attend court, but entered guilty pleas though his solicitor and received a six month sentence.

Ciro D’Alessio prosecuting, said: ‘It was supposed to be a coronavirus lockdown but she does speak to him. 

‘At a certain point she told him that can’t come into the property, she’s going to get some of his stuff.

‘This was not what he wanted so he gets upset, kicks the gate open, walks around to the front door.

‘He takes a drinks bottle to the front window, causing damage to the frame. He then makes comments of threats towards his mother’s partner.

‘He tells police he has coronavirus, in the context that police are dealing with him he certainly has given that impression, he has then spat and assaulted them.’

The court’s probation officer said Wallace had been having problems with his mother and her partner at the family home before being kicked out, he expressed remorse and took responsibility for his actions. 

District Judge Sarah Turnock said: ‘I have listened very carefully to the facts, there are a number of issues, including violence, following your attendance at your mother’s address yesterday,.

‘The issue stems from long standing issues with her partner, I’m told there have been previous incidents.

‘Despite the fact that this is a young man and relatively there can be no doubt that these offences are serious. 

‘Not only because he is out and about in public without having a reason and thereby putting himself and others at risk. 

‘The offences are aggravated by the fact that he chose to spend the time out, by violence towards his mother and her partner, the threats are very serious.

‘When police officers attended to keep the police away he told them that he suffered from coronavirus and spat in their direction.

‘In the police interview told officers that he thought it was a joke and said those things because he was angry.

‘Let me be quite clear there is nothing funny about his behaviour that day and whether or not he is suffering from coronavirus is totally beside the point. 

‘Assaults against police officers will not be tolerated, I have no doubt that this is so serious it crosses the custody threshold, the question is whether to suspend that sentence.

‘I have thought about that question very carefully with regards to the sentencing guidelines.

‘Being a man of 21 years old there is some hope for rehabilitation, there is also some personal mitigation in his favour.

‘I must weigh that against the history of domestic issues against mother and partner in this case.

‘The appropriate punishment for offences of this nature during the crisis can only be met by an immediate sentence.’

Wallace was charged under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 which make it a finable offence to leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’.

The regulations are reviewed every 21 days, with the first review carried out on April 16.
Wallace, 21, whose address is listed as an ‘unknown’ hostel, admitted criminal damage, contravening coronavirus restrictions, assaulting two police officers and using threatening language towards his mother.

He was sentenced to six months imprisonment and ordered to pay £100 compensation to the officers on top of the victim surcharge.

At the start of the hearing there was a tense exchange between Judge Turnock and the prosecutor about the corona related charge.

Comment

Wallace took it too far by spitting and claiming to have Covid-19, which must have scared the officers who are doing their job at an extremely difficult time.

There’s a sad story behind this, why was clashing with his parents so badly that they threw him out? What was it that caused such anger that he broke the front gate and threatened them?

Due to the dodgy phone line I couldn’t hear Wallace’s mitigation, but it doesn’t feel right that his face has been plastered in the news without any context to his undoubtably unacceptable crime.

It could be said that as a potentially infected person Wallace should have been charged under the Coronavirus Act, which gives police the power to remove or detain someone who ‘is, or may be, infected or contaminated with coronavirus, and there is a risk that the person might infect or contaminate others’.

Judge Turnock said: ‘I am not giving you 15 minutes to read something, if you want to google the correct regulation immediately you can see what the issue is, you are a qualified lawyer.

‘Mr D’Alessio do not turn up to my court at 11:20 saying you haven’t read the papers, that is not how my court works, I have given you the time before the court was called on, if I had the time you should too, you should be telling me the law and not the other way around.’

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