A THUG who coughed up saliva over two police officers after telling them he had Covid-19 was blasted for his “utterly despicable” behaviour by a judge.

Luke Smith, 28, was collared by officers responding to reports of two men carrying a knife in Margaret Road, Colchester.

When they searched Smith they found a small bag of cannabis.

Smith gave the two officers a false name and was arrested when they suspected he was lying about his identify.

In the back of the police car, he “splattered them with saliva” after claiming to have Covid-19.

Simon Ward, prosecuting at Chelmsford Crown Court, said: “He claimed to have coronavirus and threatened to cough all over the police in the car.

Gazette: Luke SmithLuke Smith

“He then started deliberately to cough over the officers, splattering them with saliva.

“One of them had to strike him to make him stop, causing an injury to his left cheek.”

Smith appeared in court yesterday to be sentenced for two counts of assaulting a police officer, which took place in March at the onset of the pandemic.

He was also sentenced for two counts of breaching a restraining order, possession of cannabis and two counts of criminal damage.

The order was put in place in March last year at the request of his mother.

In February, he entered her home in Mersea and threatened to “smash her face in”, before punching a hole in the ceiling.

Throughout much of March, he texted his mother asking for money and a place to sleep as he had nowhere to go.

Tom Worden, mitigating, said Smith had been on remand in prison for almost five months, without access to visits from his son and confined to his cell for up to 23 hours a day because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He added a pre-sentence report highlighted unpaid work, alongside a programme to tackle his “entrenched drug addiction” would be “the best way” to address his offending.

Judge Tim Walker sentenced Smith, of Windsor Road, West Mersea, to a total of 16 months imprisonment, adding: “The offence of assault on the two emergency workers is in my view an utterly despicable offence.

“I am told you showered them in spittle.

“They would have thought there was a very real risk that they would thereby be infected with the coronavirus.

“This offence was only three days after lockdown, this was when the scale of the pandemic was only just becoming known and it was just becoming known how dangerous this virus can be and how deadly it can be.

“People who assault emergency service workers in this way, threatening to infect them with Covid, must expect to go straight to prison.”