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Spitting Ross-shire chef who made coronavirus threats to police lands 16 months in jail


By Hector MacKenzie

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Gary Aitken: 'Spitting at any time is a disgusting thing to do, but particularly at this time, and all the more so when it strikes someone.'
Gary Aitken: 'Spitting at any time is a disgusting thing to do, but particularly at this time, and all the more so when it strikes someone.'

A ROSS-SHIRE chef exposed two police officers to the risk of Covid-19 by spitting close to them and coughing in the face of another.

Despite wearing a spit hood, fluid entered the eye of one constable as he was processing Cornelius Stevenson (33) at the charge bar of Burnett Road Police Station in Inverness on April 14.

Stevenson, also a qualified seaman from the Kyle of Lochalsh area, claimed he had the virus and the officer admitted afterwards that the incident had caused him concern as he had vulnerable high risk members in his family.

At Inverness Sheriff Court yesterday, Stevenson, described as an Inverness prisoner was jailed for a total of 16 months, backdated to April 15 when he was remanded in custody.

Sheriff Gary Aitken told him: "You have an extensive record of offending, including convictions for violence and police assault. Spitting at any time is a disgusting thing to do, but particularly at this time, and all the more so when it strikes someone.

'It is something that any member of the emergency services including police officers should not have to put up with."

Stevenson admitted culpable and reckless conduct at Rowan Brae, Plock Road, Kyle of Lochalsh by repeatedly spitting in close proximity to two police officers, removing his spit hood in a police vehicle, and continuing to spit, potentially exposing them to Covid-19 - a potentially deadly virus.

He also pleaded guilty to assaulting another police officer in Inverness by coughing in his face.

Defence solicitor Roger Webb told the court that Stevenson was not aware of the seriousness of the virus at the time.

"He is a different man when sober. His recollection of it is hazy, alcohol saw to that and no-one was more surprised than him when the spit hood was not effective."

Fiscal depute David Morton told the court that Stevenson had been drinking with a group of people in a house in Rowan Brae and had been asked to leave when he turned aggressive.

Police were called and he was arrested.

"He was placed in a police vehicle and began repeatedly spitting all over the vehicle. He was conveyed to Inverness and at the charge bar, deliberately coughed into the face of one constable, fluid from it striking the officer on the right eyeball. Stevenson then stated that he had coronavirus.

"There is no evidence that he had Covid-19 at the time. The police vehicle had to be cleaned with the cost of a few hundred pounds," Mr Morton went on.


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