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Appeal fails for man who spat on police officer during pandemic

Appeal fails for man who spat on police officer during pandemic

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Appeal fails for man who spat on police officer during pandemic


A man, who spat on the arm of a police officer arresting him for assault, has had his attempt to overturn a six-month prison sentence rejected.

Almas Uddin had appealed to the Royal Court against the sentence Magistrate Bridget Shaw imposed on 5 August.

It followed an incident on 7 July 2020 during which police officers had responded to a call from one of Uddin’s friends reporting he had bitten her. 

When they arrived, the officers saw the woman had an injury consistent with her allegation and arrested Uddin on suspicion of assault.

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Pictured: Uddin was sentenced in August before the Magistrate's Court.

Uddin, who was described as being in a “highly agitated and intoxicated state”, remained aggressive and used multiple expletives against the officers during the arrest, Royal Court Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith and Jurats Charles Blampied and Elizabeth Dulake noted in their judgment.

Just as officers were putting him in the van, Uddin turned slightly and spat in the direction of one the officers who was behind him. The Court heard that some saliva landed on the officer’s forearm.

While the woman had originally said she wanted to make a complaint, she eventually said she didn’t want to and the assault charge was not pursued. 

Uddin, who represented himself for the appeal with Advocate Mark Boothman offering assistance as 'Amicus Curiae', said the fact no report had been prepared by the Probation service may have affected his sentence.

He also referred to letters from his medical practice and the Health Department which showed he suffers from depression and anxiety - conditions he said had been “exacerbated” by the pandemic.

“This affected my behaviour at the time of arrest but couldn’t have been taken into account by the Magistrate at the time of sentencing, as these letters weren’t brought before the Court," Uddin said.

 Finally, he said that on the day of the arrest, his left hand was broken, and the pain had partly caused him to react the way he did. 

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Pictured: The court heard that the Magistrate had “a great deal of information from the Probation Service” at the time of sentencing.

Crown Advocate Lauren Hallam, who appeared for the prosecution, argued that the sentencing papers showed the Magistrate had “a great deal of information from the Probation Service” at the time of sentencing. She said this included a document detailing Uddin’s contact with the Probation service since the end of his previous custodial sentence on 13 March as well as information from the Adult Mental Health Services.

The Magistrate also had access to the Social Enquiry Report prepared for a sentencing hearing on 26 February, in which he had been assessed as being at high risk of reconviction, with alcohol use being a major risk factor. 

In addition, Advocate James Bell had mentioned Uddin’s injury and mental health issues as part of his submission to the Magistrate. 

The Court therefore concluded that Magistrate Shaw Magistrate had “ample evidence” before her in order to properly sentence Uddin.

The Royal Court also considered whether the sentence imposed had been “manifestly excessive”, noting “It cannot be said that for an assault of this kind upon a serving police officer the sentence was wrong in principle."

They said they entirely endorsed the remarks Magistrate Shaw had made during the sentencing, in which she had told Uddin that “an assault on the Police is a serious assault."

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Pictured: Uddin wrote a letter of apology to the officer he spat at.

She added: “People who come into contact with the police at any time and particularly at a time of a pandemic must realise that the risk of contracting a disease must be real and they must realise that assaults on the police and particularly spitting at the police will not be tolerated and anyone who engages in such behaviour can expect immediate custody, and Mr Uddin in my view that is the only sentence that I can pass in your case bearing everything in mind and the sentence will be six months’ immediate custody.”

The Court heard that Uddin had expressed “sincere remorse” for his actions and that he had voluntarily written a letter of apology to the officer. “He accepts that his actions were appalling and disgusting and he is devastated by them,” the court noted.

Adocate Boothamn, at Uddin’s request, said Uddin’s behaviour had been caused by a combination of “a variety of prescription medication (including anti-anxiety medication, pain relief tablets, sleeping tablets and medication for depression)” and alcohol. 

He added that since the sentencing, Uddin had taken “considerable steps” to abstain from alcohol.

The Royal Court concluded that Uddin’s potential loss of employment and accommodation were the “inevitable consequences” of his offending. 

They concluded he had “very little mitigation” and that Magistrate Shaw’s judgment had been “thorough and balanced” and dismissed the appeal. 

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