A man has been jailed after claiming to have coronavirus symptoms and deliberately coughing in the presence of a nurse and police officer in Aberdeen.
Greg Duncan, known as Masson, made sickening threats to find the family of a police officer and “purposely” coughed in front of him and a nurse at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
The 28-year-old had earlier claimed to have been suffering from Covid-19 symptoms including a cough and a fever.
Sheriff Graham Buchanan said he recognised that Masson has shown “genuine remorse” and had “gone out of his way” to address his issues, including an alcohol problem.
However, he jailed Masson for nine months to “reinforce the very clear message that behaviour of this kind will result in significant punishment”.
Fiscal depute Felicity Merson told Aberdeen Sheriff Court police traced Masson in the early hours of May 3 on Ashgrove Road West in possession of a knife and had reason to take him to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
While there he underwent a medical screening for Covid-19 but “refused to sit down and was argumentative”.
Mrs Merson said: “When asked screening questions the accused implied that he had symptoms, a cough and fever.
“The accused then proceeded to repeatedly force a cough in the presence of police and a nurse.
“He was told to stop and cover his mouth and warned of the risks.”
Masson then became “aggressive” and threatened a police officer, stating: “I’ll find your family. Trust me, I’ll find them.”
Masson pled guilty to possession of a knife and to behaving in a threatening or abusive manner.
Defence agent Paul Barnett said his client had a history of poor mental health and at the time had been placed on furlough and was “struggling to cope with lockdown”, which had a “detrimental” effect on his well being.
He added Masson was “heavily under the influence of alcohol” at the time.
Mr Barnett said Masson had shown “genuine remorse for the commission of the offence and any fear or alarm he caused the police officers and members of staff”.
He added: “It’s something he very deeply regrets and apologises for.
“The incident is sufficiently shocking to Mr Masson to trigger him getting in touch with integrated alcohol services.”
He said Masson was engaging with support and had abstained from alcohol for more than 170 days.
Sheriff Buchanan said: “This is a case many people may think is crying out for a custodial sentence because of the nature of the charge, involving as it does, threatening or abusive behaviour in that he uttered threats of violence and purposely coughed in the presence of a nurse and police officer who were just trying to carry out their duties.
“This was not coughing in their faces, it’s coughing in the presence of these people having implied that he had symptoms of Covid-19.
“The report shows Mr Masson has gone out of his way to try and address his issues, particularly his alcohol problem. He’s holding down a job providing for his family and has shown genuine remorse.
“There’s a message that requires to be sent out that behaviour of this kind is totally unacceptable.”
Addressing Masson, of Summerhill Drive, Aberdeen, directly, the sheriff continued: “I accept all that has been said on your behalf about your attitude to this matter and your response to what happened.
“I also have to have regard to the public interest and it’s very much in the public interest, particularly in these times, it’s abundantly clear that behaviour of the kind you indulged in at the hospital will not be tolerated.
“I accept you don’t have many previous convictions and the last one was six years ago.
“I have reached the conclusion that this is a case in which the matter of your conduct on May 3 was so serious and alarming to people who witnessed it that I must dispose of your case by way of a prison sentence by way of punishment of you and in order to reinforce the very clear message that behaviour of this kind will result in significant punishment.”
He jailed Masson for nine months.