Graham Soothill (54) spat in the direction of the officers as they tried to arrest him while he was drunk, the Magistrate’s Court heard. And Assistant Magistrate Peter Harris told him: ‘If you had made contact you would be going straight to prison.’
He admitted being drunk and disorderly and two counts of common assault and was sentenced to 140 hours of community service and will have to pay £1,250.
The court heard how Soothill had been drinking since around 4pm on the afternoon of 3 December and entered McDonald’s at around 8.15pm.
Legal adviser Advocate Jordan Gollop, prosecuting, said: ‘He took exception to people in McDonald’s wearing masks. He was gesticulating and shouting that Covid was a hoax.’
The police officers stopped to find out what was going on. Advocate Gollop told the court that Southill ‘instantly became aggressive because they were wearing face masks and he took exception to that’.
When he shouted abuse at the officers he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly, but scratched the face and scalp of a male officer and elbowed him in the face, and knocked a female officer to the ground, the court heard. She suffered injuries to her knees and elbows. During the disturbance he spat towards the officers.
The court was shown CCTV footage of the incident.
Advocate Lorraine McClure, defending, said of Soothill: ‘He is totally mortified and embarrassed by his behaviour.
‘He was disgusted with himself when police showed him the CCTV footage. This behaviour was totally out of character.’
She added: ‘He has a good job as a plumber, he is a dedicated father to his young son, he is of previous good character and he is not a drinking man.
‘I am confident that he will never find himself in this situation again.’
Mr Harris told Soothill: ‘I am quite often told that people are “very remorseful”. I am prepared to believe it in your case.’
But he added: ‘You were deliberately violent. Both officers suffered some injuries, fortunately not permanent ones.’
As well as the community service, he ordered Soothill to pay £500 in compensation to each of the two injured officers and a £250 fine for being drunk and disorderly.
On Monday it was revealed that assaults on States police officers had almost doubled in 2020. There were 44 assaults in 2020 and five have been recorded this year. In 2019 there were 23.