Police officers were removed from duty to self-isolate after being forced to restrain a thug who later tested positive for coronavirus.
Kevin Donegan, who was initially admitted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) due to “severe intoxication”, had to be repeatedly restrained by hospital security staff and police despite displaying Covid-19 symptoms.
Three north-east police officers were removed from duty and forced to self-isolate for a week after the 25-year old later tested positive for the virus.
He also racially abused one doctor by telling him he would “punch him all the way back to China”.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard how Donegan carried out a catalogue of violent and verbal attacks over a weekend in April 2020 – often spitting and threatening to fight doctors, security staff and police officers.
Staff at ARI were forced to discharge the thug due to the “risk he posed” to other patients, despite Donegan showing a number of virus symptoms.
Fiscal depute Colin Neilson said the medics then called the police to deal with Donegan.
He said: “The medical and security staff involved felt intimidated by the accused’s behaviour and they were particularly concerned about the risk posed to them and the public in terms of potentially spreading Covid-19 – as such, they followed him at a safe distance pending the arrival of police.
“Officers attempted to calm the accused, but he refused to do so and continued to shout at them.
“As he did so, his saliva landed on both police officers’ clothing and one officer was required to draw his baton to prevent the accused advancing any closer towards the medical staff.”
After being arrested, Donegan repeatedly kicked and head-butted the inside of a police van and threatened to spit on officers.
The 25-year old received a positive Covid-19 result while in custody and was taken back to ARI where a doctor refused to treat him any further due to the racist abuse he was being made to endure.
Donegan’s lawyer, Graham Morrison, said his client had “no recollection whatsoever about the incident” due to his mental health at the time.
He added: “His mental health had been deteriorating and when he first appeared in custody by video link he was inconsolable in tears – it was completely out of character from him.”
Mr Morrison also submitted a letter from Donegan’s mother outlining his mental health problems.
Sheriff William Summers said he was “prepared to accept” Donegan’s struggles may have been to blame.
But he added: “You behaved despicably towards hospital staff and you were repeatedly hostile and aggressive to people who were simply trying to help you.”
Donegan, whose address was given as HMP Grampian, was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment backdated to April 2020.
A spokesman for NHS Grampian said: “The type of behaviour exhibited in this case was nothing short of appalling and entirely unacceptable.
“It put a number of our staff at risk of both infection and harm and left others fearful – all because they were trying to do their jobs – we welcome the outcome and sentencing in this case.”
A police spokesman said: “Emergency service workers are playing a vital role in the response to the pandemic and the collective effort to protect the NHS and save lives by preventing the virus from spreading.
“Attacks on our officers and staff, or our colleagues in other emergency services, are outrageous and disgraceful.
“Abuse and assault is not simply part of the job for police officers and staff and will not be tolerated.”