A man who assaulted an emergency worker and told police he had coronavirus to try to avoid being arrested has been jailed for 31 weeks.

Wayne Harvey, from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, pleaded guilty at his first hearing to stealing a £750 Louis Vuitton handbag and assaulting a security officer at George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton on Wednesday 25 March 2020. Harvey walked into the A and E department at the hospital around 5.45am, and stole the handbag from the reception desk before leaving the department. He then attempted to flee on his bicycle but was stopped by the security guard, who pulled him off it.

Harvey told the security guard that he had a dirty needle in his pocket and the security guard pinned him down. As he struggled with the security guard on the floor, Harvey bit him in the upper left arm causing a red mark. He was arrested by police shortly after and during the arrest he claimed he had coronavirus. At Coventry Magistrates’ Court he pleaded guilty to one count of assault by beating of an emergency worker and one count of theft.

Gavin Naylor of the CPS said: “We will vigorously prosecute people who steal from and assault those who are putting themselves at risk to help the rest of society during this pandemic. The CPS stands behind emergency and essential workers and will not hesitate to prosecute anybody who threatens them as they go about their vital duties.

“Not only did the defendant commit a despicable crime, he also added to the already heightened state of fear and panic by making such a comment and using this threat to avoid arrest. The gravity with which the court viewed his offending reflects in the sentence imposed.”