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A man has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment and given a 15-year restraining order for breaking a woman’s leg, and then coughing on officers while claiming he had COVID-19 as they arrested him.
Darren Rafferty, 45, of Bentry Close, Dagenham, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and three counts of assault on emergency workers.
The court heard that at approximately 1.30pm on Tuesday, March 24, Rafferty went to an address on Gainsborough Road in Dagenham, and attacked a woman.
He subjected her to a brutal, sustained assault during which he stamped on her knee, causing multiple fractures, and lunged at her with a knife, which slashed her arm when she tried to defend herself.
Police attended the scene and found Rafferty in the property, the knife used in the attack, and the victim suffering serious injuries. She was taken to hospital for treatment.
Upon arrest, Rafferty was verbally abusive to officers, claimed he had COVID-19 and repeatedly coughed in their faces. Despite being restrained he continued to try to cough in their faces.
On Friday, June 5, Rafferty was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court, where he was handed 30 months for causing grievous bodily harm; 12 months for three separate assaults on emergency workers, to run consecutively; a restraining order imposed for 15 years.
Officers were praised by the judge for their professionalism and the care that they took despite the appalling conduct of the defendant.
Detective Inspector Lucie Card, who led the investigation, said: “This was a horrendous attack on many levels.
“Rafferty’s vicious, sustained assault must have terrified his victim and has caused her a lot of pain. I sincerely wish her the best for her recovery and hope she can rest a little easier after today’s outcome. We take violent crime seriously and will continue to tackle it, even in these challenging circumstances.
“To use COVID-19 as a weapon against an emergency worker is disgusting but, thankfully, such incidents are extremely rare. However, anyone who does try to use coronavirus to threaten or harm others should expect to face serious consequences.”