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Woman jailed after intentionally coughing at officers who were arresting her as top cop condemns her 'appalling behaviour'
21 Apr | 09:33

Merrifield has been jailed for more than four months after the unsavoury incident in Hebburn earlier this month

A top cop has condemned the “appalling” behaviour of a woman who intentionally coughed at officers as she was being arrested.

Charlene Merrifield, 39, was stopped by police in South Tyneside following a report that a woman had attempted to attack a male with a knife and had been damaging cars.

Merrifield became aggressive and abusive towards officers and after being put in the back of the police van she proceeded to cough in the direction of a PC.

Now, after she was sentenced to more than four months behind bars, officers have released footage of the incident and reiterated that such behaviour will be treated incredibly seriously amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief Inspector Nicola Wearing, of Northumbria Police, said: “Our officers come to work each day in order to keep people safe and protect the communities they serve. They do so knowing they could be faced with potentially dangerous situations.

“However, at a time when our communities across Northumbria are pulling together and showing the incredible spirit that this region is famed for, there remains a small minority who show a total disregard for both the law and the welfare of others.

“Charlene Merrifield knew exactly what she was doing as she decided to intentionally cough at one of our officers, which is absolutely appalling. I hope this case highlights how seriously offences of this nature are being taken in the light of the current pandemic.

“I would like to thank the public for their amazing support, as well as our officers, staff and volunteers who are all working together in these difficult and unprecedented times to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Officers were called to Lyon Street in Hebburn on the evening of April 8 following a report that a woman had been attempting to attack a man with a knife and caused damage to vehicles.

Upon attending the scene, police located Merrifield nearby who was holding two bricks in her hand. When searched by officers, the suspect was found not to be in possession of a knife.

Police also found a Ford Focus car had been damaged on the street after a windscreen wiper had been snapped off.

The suspect was arrested on suspicion of affray, and as she was being detained, she leant forward in the back of the police van and coughed in the direction of a PC.

Merrifield, of no fixed abode, admitted assault of an emergency worker, criminal damage and a public order offence when appearing before magistrates in South Tyneside on Wednesday (April 15), along with breach of a suspended sentence.

She was subsequently jailed for 21 weeks.

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