IN order to comply with social distancing, the number of cases being heard in magistrates' courts across Essex has been limited over the last few weeks.

The courts are only dealing with urgent matters, with the majority of cases adjourned.

Here are the people from Colchester who have appeared in magistrates' court over the last few weeks.

  • A THUG who spat at a police officer at the start of the coronavirus outbreak has been jailed for a year.

Jason Bestford admitted assaulting the officer in Colchester on March 21 when he appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court.

The 44-year-old initially denied the office but later changed his plea.

He also admitted stealing hundreds of pounds worth of women's clothes from Marks and Spencer in Colchester High Street.

Bestford, of no fixed address, was handed the year-long jail term as magistrates decided it was not only unpleasant, but dangerous in the current climate.

He must pay £75 compensation to the officer he assaulted.

  • A MAN has been jailed for close to a year after admitting to a string of offences.

Thomas Williams stole bank cards and wallets from two people in Colchester last year and used cards at stores including Hythe Tesco.

In March, he assaulted two police officers and verbally abused another after being seen interfering with a car.

Last month Williams, of Speedwell Road, Colchester, was again caught interfering with a motor vehicle and shoplifting.

Williams admitted a string of charges during a Chelmsford Magistrates' Court hearing and was given a 42 week jail sentence.

  • A MAN has been jailed for 12 weeks after admitting to biting someone.

Danny Granville, of Harvey Crescent, Stanway, admitted assault when he appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court.

The 33-year-old must also pay compensation of £128.

  • A MAN has been fined £150 after being caught with heroin.

Dean Pitts had 2.2g of the drugs in Colchester last September.

The 26-year-old, of Avignon Close, Colchester, admitted possession of a Class A drug at Basildon Magistrates' Court.

He must pay a £90 victim surcharge. The drugs will be destroyed.

  • A MAN has been jailed after admitting to an assault.

Philip Wheelden, 35, was handed a 16 week jail term at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court.

Wheelden, of Harwich Road, Colchester, must also pay £128 compensation.

  • A MAN who brandished a metal pole and a brick has been given a conditional discharge.

Shakyl Klotia-Clottey admitted having the weapons in Magdalen Street, Colchester, during a Chelmsford Crown Court hearing.

The 24-year-old of Circus Square, Colchester, was given the year-long discharge meaning he will not be punished unless he commits another offence.

He must also pay £71 in court charges and the weapons will be destroyed.

  • A MAN who damaged a car has been handed a community order.

Carl Eliffe admitted causing the damage to the Renault Captur in Colchester when he appeared at Basildon Magistrates' Court.

The 36-year-old was handed 140 hours of unpaid work, he must attend an accredited programme and do 15 rehabilitation days.

Eliffe, of Mayberry Walk, Colchester, must pay £150 compensation and £200 in other court charges.

  • A MAN has been fined for abusing his neighbours.

Gary Marsh is subject to a community protection notice which he broke twice in April by being abusive to other people living in East Ward Mews, Mersea.

The 56-year-old admitted two breaches when he appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court.

He was fined £100 and ordered to pay £150 in compensation.

  • A SHOPLIFTER has been handed a community order.

Benjamin Jones, 39, admitted stealing food from the Co-op store in Greenstead twice in a week in January when he appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court.

Jones, of Pondfield Road, Colchester, was handed a six week curfew and must pay £30 in compensation.