Offenders who spit or cough at victims to face tougher sentences

Offenders who spit or cough at victims to face tougher sentences
Other ‘high culpability’ factors include ‘intention to cause fear or serious harm, including disease transmission’

Offenders who spit or cough at their victims will face tougher sentences under new official guidelines.

De Sentencing Council published the new guidance on Thursday which also recommends judges and magistrates should consider longer sentences or tougher penalties for people offenders whose victim is an emergency worker.

The guidelines for attempted murder have also been revised with a new sentence range of up to 40 år.

Assaults resulting in physical injury which include “deliberate spitting or coughing” could see offenders spend up to two and a half months longer in prison.

Other “high culpability” factors have been introduced, including the “intention to cause fear or serious harm, including disease transmission”, or targeting a victim who is “obviously vulnerable due to age, personal characteristics or circumstances”.

The high-culpability factor of strangulation has also been expanded to include asphyxiation and suffocation for all assault offences except attempted murder.

Sentencing Council member Judge Rosa Dean said: “Assault is a traumatic offence and can cause great distress to the victim both physically and psychologically, and it is important that sentences reflect the harm and upset that can be caused to many people – both ordinary members of the public and professionals doing their work.

“These guidelines provide updated guidance for sentencing a range of assault offences from common assault to attempted murder and include guidance for sentencing offences involving assaults on emergency workers.

“The guidelines will ensure appropriate and proportionate sentences are imposed for these offences that fully recognise the level of harm caused to the victim.”

The coronavirus pandemic has seen a rise in the number of assaults on emergency service workers which included deliberate spitting or coughing.

Belly Mujinga, a railway worker, died of coronavirus a fortnight after being spat at by a man who claimed he had the virus in London’s Victoria station.

Following an investigation, British Transport Police (BTP) detectives concluded there was “no evidence to substantiate any crimnial offences” took place and that her death was “not a consequence of this incident”.

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