Coronavirus faker who coughed on police officer jailed

A covid-faker who coughed in a police officer’s face and lied that he had the virus has been jailed.
Police were called back to the property after leaving.Police were called back to the property after leaving.
Police were called back to the property after leaving.

Ryan McLay (26) became "extremely confrontational" after police broke up a party round a homemade firepit at the height of the coronavirus lockdown.

Officers had to be called twice by neighbours concerned about the noise from the gathering in a communal garden at the rear of a block of flats in Leslie, surrounded by other houses and flats.

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They found a group of males sitting drinking round the firepit, and loud music coming from a sound system connected to an extension lead running down the communal stair from a flat occupied by McLay in the block, in High Street.

Falkirk Sheriff Court was told that on the initial visit, about 10.15 pm, police reminded the group about the health guidelines, asked them to disperse, and to turn the music off.

The music was turned down, and officers left.

About 11.35 pm, however, police received further complaints about loud music, and were informed by callers that the volume had been turned up again soon after officers had left on the first occasion.

Officers returned to the scene and unplugged the sound system from the extension cable.

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McLay was by now "pacing around the garden, shouting and swearing," the court heard.

Prosecutor Samantha Brown said: "He was hostile towards the officers and shouted 'turn my music back on'.

"He became extremely confrontational, swearing, and shouting, ‘I'm coming for you'.

"He lunged towards officers tensing his fists."

PC Stefanie Ellis put her hand on his arm and placed him under arrest, cautioned him about his conduct.

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He was handcuffed and as he was being placed in a police vehicle, PC Ellis asked him if he had any Covid 19-related symptoms.

Ms Brown said: "The accused replied by shouting 'yes' and deliberating coughing in an exaggerated manner towards Police Constable Ellis who was standing about a metre in front of him."

He was then taken to St Leonards Police Station, Edinburgh, which is an identified facility for people in custody who have or claimed to have Covid 19.

Ms Brown said: "Whilst in custody, he displayed no further symptoms."

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McLay, of High Street, Leslie, pleaded guilty to police assault, resisting police, and threatening and abusive behaviour. The incident occurred on April 15, 2020.

Martin McGuire, defending, said McLay, together with a friend who had been staying with him and an upstairs neighbour, had dug in a small firepit at the bottom of the garden and had been drinking.

He said his client's recollection of events was "relatively vague".

He said: "His pet dog went out of the garden, which is a fenced-in area, after one of the police officers left the gate open, and he can remember becoming heated with them.

"He has never shown any signs of Covid before or since."

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Jailing McLay for 10 months, Sheriff Derek Hamilton said: "There must have been considerable and alarm and distress on the part of this officer and it's clear that the action of the accused was quite deliberate."

He said that McLay had a "significant record littered with assaults".

He added: "He is a man who is prone to violence and us quite willing to assault others."