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Man attacked mum and coughed in face of police after claiming to have Covid-19, Belfast court told

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Andrews was granted bail.

Andrews was granted bail.

PA Archive/PA Images

Andrews was granted bail.

A man accused of assaulting his mother allegedly coughed in the face of a police officer and declared that he had Covid-19, a court has been told.

Prosecutors claimed Robert Andrews deliberately targeted a constable called out to the woman's home in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim.

But the 31-year-old's lawyer insisted any comments were only a "sarcastic" response to concerns raised over social distancing.

Andrews, of no fixed abode, was granted bail on conditions including a ban on entering Carrickfergus.

He faces charges of criminal damage, common assault, assault on police and disorderly behaviour.

Belfast Magistrates' Court was told his mother sustained a bloodshot eye during an alleged incident at Rosebrook Grove in the early hours of April 3.

An interior door in the woman's flat had also been smashed before police located Andrews.

A Crown lawyer claimed: "He stated that he had Covid-19 and deliberately coughed all over one of the officers."

She alleged that Andrews continued shouting abuse and violently resisted efforts to detain him.

During interview the accused stated: "I didn't tell anyone that I had coronavirus."

Defence counsel Luke Curran confirmed his client denies any intentional coughing over the officer.

"It was quite heated at a stage where police alleged they had been in a vicinity where they might be exposed if he was coughing or spluttering," the barrister submitted.

"In response to police raising the issue of coronavirus he made a sarcastic reference, but it wasn't as blunt has 'I have coronavirus'."

Granting bail to an approved address, District Judge Mark Hamill cited the Public Prosecution Service's decision to reduce the charge for the alleged coughing from attempted grievous bodily harm to assault on police.

"Someone in the PPS needs to give some thought to the correct level of charging in these cases," he said.

Mr Hamill also ordered Andrews to have no contact with his mother.

Belfast Telegraph