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Man who spat at officer and in police vehicle gets six month jail sentence

The district judge said: 'There is an aggravated feature in relation to Covid, in that he spat all over the place. Spitting is disgusting in any circumstance but especially in times like these'

A Waringstown man who spat at an officer and inside a police vehicle during one incident has been sentenced to six months in prison.

Prior to sentencing the 20-year-old, the district judge commented: “There is an aggravated feature in relation to Covid, in that he spat all over the place. Spitting is disgusting in any circumstance but especially in times like these.”

Jason Whitla, of Beech Meadows, pleaded guilty to criminal damage, four counts of assault on police, two counts of disorderly behaviour and resisting police at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Lisburn, on Friday via videolink from Hydebank.

Prosecution outlined that these charges were accrued by the defendant over two separate incidents.

The first was on December 17, of last year, when police were called to Beech Meadows in Waringstown after a report regarding a Hiyundai vehicle being driven erratically in the area at 3.20am.

Officers spoke to Whitla as a result and when he was arrested to be interviewed the defendant resisted police.

He then began shouting and screaming in the street. This was noted to have caused several neighbours to look out their windows.

The second incident occurred on September 3, of this year, when police were called to a disturbance at Beech Meadows in Waringstown at 6.30am.

When police arrived they located the defendant, who was noted to be highly intoxicated. Upon approach Whitla became aggressive towards officers.

The defendant had to be taken to the ground after he attempted to headbutt one of the officers, striking him on the shoulder.

Whilst on the ground, Whitla continued to resist officers, kicking out, connecting with two officers before spitting at another.

The defendant was then placed in the rear of a police vehicle and headbutted one officer as he attempted to put a seat belt on him.

Whilst inside this vehicle, Whitla caused damage by spitting both on the rear and front.

Prosecution outlined that the defendant had been abusive and had sworn repeatedly during the incident, adding that this had continued despite warnings from police.

Defence barrister Gavin Cairns stated: “What originally predicated police involvement (in the December matter) was concerns surrounding a driver who was under the influence.

“Mr Whitla was not driving on that occasion, I only mention this to provide some contextualisation but this is not an excuse. With the more recent matter, the best that can be said about it is that this is an early plea.”

He continued: “I have consulted with Mr Whitla and I can tell you from the bar that this is one of those cases with which the court is all too familiar.

“This is a young man, that there is a day of work in and who does have a mannerly disposition when in an orderly way without alcohol.”

Mr Cairns added: “He is remorseful for his conduct and does offer his apologies today through me.”

District Judge Rosie Watters stated: “There is an aggravated feature in relation to Covid, in that he spat all over the place. Spitting is disgusting in any circumstance but especially in times like these.”

Mr Cairns commented: “This was an abhorrent act. It is only good fortune that there was no lasting or further injury from it.”

District Judge Watters sentenced Whitla to six months in prison for the offences.

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