'The equivalent of using a weapon': Dad coughed in police officer's face and shouted racist abuse days after first lockdown in Belle Isle street
A man coughed in the face of police officers and shouted racial abuse at one of them as he was arrested during a disturbance in a street in Leeds.
Michael Egan was arrested in Broom Gardens, Belle Isle, after police were called to a report of a domestic disturbance.
Leeds Crown Court heard the officers tried to engage Egan in conversation but he became obstructive and argumentative.
The officers arrested Egan and placed him in handcuffs and he intentionally coughed towards the officers.
The incident happened on March 28 last year, days after the first lockdown.
The 47-year-old defendant also threatened to headbutt the officers.
As he was being searched he coughed in the face of one of the officers.
Egan was restrained and taken to the floor.
He then said: "As soon as I get up I am going to cough again in your face."
Another police officer then helped his colleagues to put Egan into a police van.
Egan shouted racist comments at him and threatened him.
The defendant refused to comment about the incident during an interview but claimed he had been assaulted by the officers.
Egan, of Nowell Court, Harehills, pleaded guilty to racially aggravated harassment and assaulting an emergency worker.
He has 28 previous convictions for 82 offences.
The police officer provided a statement to the court describing how he found the racial comments upsetting.
He also described how he found the incident frightening as it happened soon after the pandemic and officers did not have personal protective equipment.
The officer also said it made him fearful for his family's safety as he had a two-month-old baby at the time.
Lauren Hebditch, mitigating, said Egan has a problem with alcohol and suffered from depression and anxiety.
Ms Hebditch said Egan's two children would suffer if he was sent immediately to prison.
Egan was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
He was told he must complete 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days and was ordered to take part in a six-month alcohol treatment requirement.
Judge Simon Phillips QC said: "The courts will crack down on those who not only show a lack of respect but a flagrant disregard for officers' safety.
"Coughing in the course of a pandemic is the equivalent of using a weapon against an officer."