Man who spat at housing association staff member three times in confrontation over Covid breach is jailed
A housing resident who repeatedly spat at a member of staff after being refused entry over a Covid breach has been jailed for five months.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard Paul McCartan, 55, targeted the victim three times during a confrontation earlier this year.
Imposing the prison term, District Judge George Conner said: “The offence itself is disgusting at any time, but in the current circumstances it would cause a lot of alarm and upset.”
McCartan, with an address at Queens Quarter Housing, University Street in Belfast, pleaded guilty to common assault.
Prosecutors said he went into the room of another resident who had tested positive for Covid-19 on February 17, despite being told by staff to keep out.
On one occasion he entered and remained there for 45 minutes.
When informed by a nurse the following morning that he would have to self-isolate due to the close contact, McCartan became angry and walked out of the premises.
He returned hours later, but the gates were kept shut.
A manager who went out to speak to him was told: “You’re a fat b******, I’m going to take you through the courts.”
As instructions were given to phone police, McCartan started making “snorting” noises and raising mucus in his throat.
A Crown lawyer said he tried to spit on a member of staff, but missed with the first attempt.
“(The victim) walked away and felt spittle land on his back,” the prosecutor added.
Later, the employee went back out to check but was spotted again by McCartan and spat at for a third time, the court heard.
Although McCartan originally faced a count of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent over the incident, that charge was withdrawn.
Defence barrister Mark Farrell acknowledged the seriousness of the incident.
However, he set out how his client has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and mild learning difficulties.
Passing sentence for the offence, Mr Conner stressed: “It has to be met with a custodial (term).”