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Newark woman who racially abused and coughed in faces of paramedics claiming to have covid escapes prison sentence

A woman who coughed in the faces of paramedics while claiming she had covid-19 has escaped a prison sentence.

In sentencing Leah Williams, 26, the presiding magistrate at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court said spitting and coughing in a hospital during a pandemic was absolutely shocking.

Williams admitted a racially-aggravated assault on an attending police officer, criminal damage to a police vehicle, assault on a detention officer while in custody and assaulting paramedics who had been called to her aid.

Nottingham Magistrates' Court.
Nottingham Magistrates' Court.

The court was told police officers found Williams in a distressed state at her home at Welbeck Avenue, Newark, on September 12, 2020.

“When they then sought to intervene, Ms Williams reacted to that poorly,” said Mr Hopkinson, prosecuting.

“Pc Hussain was there, he was containing Ms Williams. She scratched him on his arm causing a minor injury.”

Nottingham Magistrates' Court. (28210506)
Nottingham Magistrates' Court. (28210506)

The defendant continued to become agitated, making racist comments towards Pc Hussain.

Williams carried on resisting on the way to the police station and kicked the police vehicle, causing damage.

“Once back in the police station there was an assault on a detention officer where water was cast through the hatch, along with some toilet roll,” Mr Hopkinson said.

Two paramedics were called to the police station over increasing concerns for the defendant’s welfare.

The court heard Williams refused to wear a face mask on the way to the hospital and when she got there, began shouting that she had covid-19 and coughed in the faces of the two paramedics.

Miss Carlisle, defending, said her client was extremely remorseful and that her behaviour could be linked to post-natal depression, which was not diagnosed at the time.

“The only word I can really use to describe how Ms Williams feels about all of this is ashamed,” Miss Carlisle said.

“When the police arrived, she was in a panic. The whole incident was captured on bodycam and I tried watching it with Ms Williams and she just becomes so upset when she sees herself because it is not the way that she usually behaves.

“The words that she used towards Pc Hussain were disgraceful and she knows that and is fully aware of that.

“By far the most serious of all these occurrences is the way that she behaved towards the two paramedics.

“She has absolutely no explanation for why she did that and why she behaved that way and is absolutely horrified at the distress she must’ve caused to those two paramedics who were just going about their duties at what is a troubling time for everybody, let alone people on the front line.”

The court was told Williams had been due to start a nursing degree with the Open University, which has now been put on hold as a result of the proceedings.

Miss Carlisle said her client had written letters of apology to each of the victims.

The presiding magistrate said: “Somebody said to us that you were ashamed. Well, if you are not, there is something badly wrong with you.

“This was appalling. The way that you treated people who were there to help you during this pandemic is literally beyond belief.

“Three people have suffered badly because of you. Spitting and coughing in a hospital during a pandemic is absolutely shocking.”

Ms Williams was sentenced to 13 weeks, suspended for a year, and ordered to pay a total of £250 in compensation to the victims.

She was also told to pay £428 in costs.

She was further ordered to do 30 days of rehabilitation activity requirements and 80 hours of unpaid work.

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