An Isle of Wight man who repeatedly coughed at four police officers and told them he would infect them with COVID-19 has been jailed for six months.

Isle of Wight Magistrates Court heard today (7) how Riko Baber coughed on four officers, threatening to infect them with the virus.

He also spat in the cell of a police van, requiring it to be removed from service and specially cleaned.

Police say officers had attended a disturbance at an address in Manor Crescent, Newport, just after 5pm yesterday (April 6) when they arrested the 30-year-old.

Having placed him in the back of a police van, Mr Baber began spitting in the cell.

It was heard on arrival at custody, he then started coughing at officers as they tried to remove him from the vehicle.

In total, he coughed numerous times at four officers, also kicking two of them.

Mr Baber, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to three counts of common assault of an emergency worker, one of assault by beating of an emergency worker, using threatening or abusive words or behaviour and criminal damage.

He was also pleaded guilty to a further count of criminal damage and two more counts of using threatening or abusive words or language in relation to an incident on March 26.

The court heard that on March 26, Baber forced entry to Grove House Surgery in Ventnor, and was aggressive to staff members who were trying to assist patients on the phone.

Assistant Chief Constable Scott Chilton said:

“We are in the midst of a national health emergency and my officers are doing everything they can to limit the spread of infection, protect their NHS colleagues and help save lives.

“It is completely unacceptable that people are using this virus as a weapon in these extremely challenging times. Not only is this vile behaviour, but it causes a huge personal impact on those officers and their families too.

“This sentence should serve as a warning to anyone who thinks it is acceptable to cough and spit at police officers, or anyone else responding to this crisis. You will be arrested and you will face the consequences of your actions.”