A man who kicked a doctor in the chest and spat blood into the face of a police officer before telling him he had Covid-19 was caged for 18 months yesterday.
Ordering Ryan Hagan (35) to spend half in jail and half on licence, Antrim Crown Court Judge Patrick Kinney warned that assaults on medics "must be met with robust penalties".
"Medical professionals have dedicated themselves to helping all of society in one of the most trying periods in history and they will always deserve our protection," he said.
At an earlier hearing Hagan, from Queens Park in Glengormley, admitted 11 offences after a series of incidents at Antrim Area Hospital on June 16 last year.
Hagan admitted four counts of assaulting police; four of criminal damage to their uniforms and a police cell van; attempting to damage hospital monitoring equipment, and two charges of common assault.
The court had heard how Hagan was taken to the hospital after collapsing but refused to wear a mask and was aggressive.
After a brain scan, Hagan "tried to pull the monitor equipment off the wall".
"Dr Rice tried to prevent damage to the expensive equipment by removing it from the defendant's hand and was subsequently kicked with force to the chest," said prosecuting counsel.
Hagan then threatened to "wreck this f****** place".
When police arrived and told Hagan he was being arrested "he immediately became violent", headbutting a constable before spitting blood over the officer's face, arms and shirt.
The officer had to attend the same department later to have blood samples taken for tests and to have a hepatitis B vaccination.
The court heard the bloody spittle landed on a second officer, and Hagan tried to headbutt another constable.
"The defendant stated he had Covid-19 whilst still attempting to spit on other officers present," the prosecution said.
More officers and a prison cell van were summoned to get Hagan into custody but he spat blood and saliva over the police cell van, and while in custody he kicked a constable and spat blood on his boots and trousers, and headbutted a sergeant on the leg.
Sentencing Hagan yesterday, Judge Kinney said there were numerous aggravating features to the offences, not least that they were committed in a busy hospital during a health crisis, physical and verbal abuse of medical staff and police, and the spitting aspect, which was "degrading".
Hagan looked stunned as the judge ordered him to surrender himself to custody.