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Beggar Stephen Ravenscroft has been jailed after repeatedly coughing at Newark Community Protection Officer saying he had coronavirus

A man who claimed to have coronavirus as he repeatedly coughed at a Community Protection Officer (CPO) has been jailed for 30 weeks.

Stephen Ravenscroft, 41, of no fixed abode, was found guilty of assaulting the Newark and Sherwood District Council key worker.

Stephen Ravenscroft. (42198402)
Stephen Ravenscroft. (42198402)

He was also ordered to pay £300 in compensation and Crown Prosecution Service costs.

The judge at Nottingham Magistrates' Court heard that CPO Andrew Weaver was conducting routine town centre patrols near Newark Castle Station when he intervened during a disagreement between Ravenscroft and a train station employee.

Ravenscroft was alleged to have been begging outside of the nearby nursery and causing a nuisance to passers-by, refusing to move off the station site.

When asked to move elsewhere by Weaver, Ravenscroft refused and proceeded to verbally abuse the Community Protection Officer, followed shortly after by coughing in Weaver’s face and shouting “I have coronavirus."

Weaver was tested for covid-19 on the same day of the assault and was taken off duty while waiting for his test result.

Andrew Weaver. (42198455)
Andrew Weaver. (42198455)

Andrew Weaver said: “I was more worried that if he could do this to a uniformed officer, what could he do to a member of public.

"His actions risked not only my own health, but also my family’s health.

"Assaults of any nature should not be tolerated, but especially to key workers and emergency services, who at this time, are already stretched.”

Inspector Heather Sutton, police district commander for Newark and Sherwood, said: "We were absolutely disgusted that Ravenscroft acted in this abusive manner towards one of our Community Protection colleagues.

"Mr Weaver acted bravely and, after being coughed at and verbally abused, followed the offender until police officers quickly arrived and arrested him.

"Our key workers have been acting so selflessly and throughout the outbreak, have bravely put themselves at risk for the sake of others. So to then be treated in this way is beyond belief.

"I'm glad that Ravenscroft has now been locked up for his crimes and hope that Mr Weaver can now recover from the ordeal."

David Lloyd, leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “Nobody should have to be afraid of being assaulted while they go about their job, especially in such a disgusting manner, at a time when fears are heightened and the need to safeguard our personal health has never been greater.

"Concerns around protecting ourselves and our key workers from coronavirus are at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now and rightly so.

"We want to reassure the public that we are taking instances such as this extremely seriously and bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.”

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