COVID-19: woman who deliberately coughed at nurse is jailed

Judge says woman who also spat at police officer ‘abused the very people there to help you’

Picture of Sarah Clarkson-Rose, 42, who received a six-month prison sentence for deliberately coughing into the faces of a nurse and police officer and spitting at another police officer.
Sarah Clarkson-Rose Picture: PA Wire

A woman claiming to have COVID-19 who deliberately coughed in a nurse’s face has been given a six-month prison sentence.

Sarah Clarkson-Rose, 42, who also coughed at one police officer and spat at another, pleaded guilty to assault by beating of an emergency worker and two charges of common assault of an emergency worker.

Emergency workers ‘had to go home fearing that they may have contracted COVID-19’

Sentencing her in a virtual hearing at Lewes Crown Court on 10 June, Ms Justice Janet Waddicor told her she was being jailed for ‘abusing the very people who are there to help you’.

The court heard that Ms Clarkson-Rose, of Ridgewood, near Uckfield, East Sussex, coughed into the faces of the nurse and a police officer at Eastbourne District General Hospital, where she was taken in the early hours of 12 May after being found in a comatose state in a police cell.

Earlier she had spat in another police officer’s face after being arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage.

The judge said: ‘All three individuals had to go home to their families. They had to go home fearing that they may well have contracted COVID-19.

‘They have to carry on with their duties and every day of the week they come into close contact with members of the public.’

Woman found not to have COVID-19

Neither the nurse nor the police officers contracted COVID-19, and Ms Clarkson-Rose was found to not have the virus.

The judge said the sentence was reduced from the maximum of 12 months due to Ms Clarkson-Rose’s mental health problems, the fact she had expressed remorse to the victims in handwritten letters, and because she had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

She has already spent four weeks in custody, which will count towards the sentence. Due to her limited finances she was not ordered to pay prosecution costs or compensation.

But the judge told her: ‘This is a case which, if you had the means to pay, it would manifestly justify compensation.’

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust and Sussex Police were contacted for comment.

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