A TEENAGER has been jailed for coughing at police during lockdown - having told patrolling officers attempting to keep order on Barnsley’s streets she wanted to infect them with coronavirus.

Levi Marsden, of Holwick Court, was arrested in the town centre in the early hours of April 6 having breached a court-imposed drug rehabilitation programme.

On arrival at custody, the 18-year-old repeatedly coughed in the presence of officers and when asked to cover her mouth, she refused and told them she hoped ‘they would get coronavirus’ as a result.

She was charged with two counts of common assault on the officers and was remanded to court.

She appeared at Sheffield Crown Court a day later and was given a three-month sentence - which will be served at a young offenders’ institution - and was ordered to pay £50 in compensation to each of the officers she assaulted.

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PC Fran Robbs de la Hoyde, who worked on the investigation, said: “As key workers, our officers are still working tirelessly to keep our local communities safe and it is appalling that they were assaulted in such a way when they were just trying to do their job.

“I hope the public can be assured by this sentencing that assaults of this nature will not be tolerated.”

Police presence in the town centre has been dramatically increased in the last four weeks as a result of the government-imposed lockdown period which means only essential travel is permitted.

Groups have been dispersed as a result, while officers have made use of the area’s public space protection order (PSPO), which effectively bans perpetrators from entering the town centre.

Chief Constable Stephen Watson appealed for people to stay at home as recommended, but told offenders who go against the advice that more presence will continue.

“We are all now being enlisted, not to fight in a war, but to play a very small but crucial role in the fight against coronavirus,” he added. “While we may face unprecedented times, all that is required of you is to stay at home and to cherish some time with those closest to you.

“In doing so, we are protecting the vulnerable and the elderly, many of whom have given more than this to protect us.

“I fully anticipate the public of South Yorkshire will want to adhere to these restrictions, many already are. However, where we find people are not willing to comply, we will move to enforcement once we understand the detail of the legislation as it becomes available to us.

“This will be a last, but in some cases necessary, resort. We have recently increased our neighbourhood policing capacity and will keep officers in their communities wherever possible. We will not withdraw our frontline and will remain here throughout.

“Please listen to local officers, they are leaving their own loved ones night and day to keep people safe. They ask very little of the public, so please support them in supporting the NHS.”