This is the face of the Stoke-on-Trent woman jailed after coughing at emergency workers


This is the face of the Stoke-on-Trent woman who has been jailed after deliberately coughing in the face of emergency workers.

Nicola Tilstone was jailed for 27 weeks after being charged with assaulting police and paramedics by deliberately coughing six times.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard the incident began when officers were called to King Street, Fenton, on April 9.

The 37-year-old – of no fixed address, had been staying at the Crown Hotel, in Longton, due to the pandemic – and had been spotted banging into cars and wandering in the road. She appeared to be intoxicated or in a ‘psychotic’ state.

Prosecutor Neil Ahuja said the officers detained her for her own safety and put her in the cage of a police van while they awaited an ambulance.

“That caused her some distress,” he added. “She appeared to be displaying extremely erratic and irrational behaviour.

“When in the ambulance, she was restrained by straps on a stretcher because of the manner of her behaviour.

“Her temperature was taken. It was clearly at a level that caused concern. She could have been displaying symptoms of Covid-19.”

As emergency workers tried to get a mask on Tilstone, she began coughing and was told in ‘robust terms’ by a police officer to stop doing it.

She refused to put the mask on.

The ambulance then arrived at hospital and Tilstone was taken into the ‘red zone’, where she continued to cough.

She was heard to say: “I coughed at you to make a point.” Eventually, a spit guard was placed on her.

It was not revealed in court whether Tilstone was tested for coronavirus following the incident. But at no point had she made any reference to Covid-19 when she coughed.

She went on to plead guilty to four counts of assaulting an emergency worker. The victims included three police constables and a paramedic.

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Judge David Fletcher said it must have been worrying for all four victims, who were just doing their jobs.

He told the defendant: “You can see when you look at the footage just how much effort, work time and resources were taken up that night in dealing with you – an extremely difficult person.”

Following the sentencing, Assistant Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police, Simon Tweats said: “The vast majority of people across Staffordshire have been fantastic during the lockdown period, even now as the government begins to ease restrictions.

“Compliance with the regulations remains important, especially if we are to continue to locally drive down infection rates.

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“Unfortunately, there are a small minority that choose not to protect others and there have been several incidents where emergency services have been deliberately spat and coughed at in an attempt to infect them, or at least making emergency workers think so.

“Not only is this dangerous from a health protection perspective it’s also down right disgusting behaviour.

“Emergency services are on the frontline and are working to save people’s lives; often working in extremely challenging situations. Rest assured we will not tolerate this sort of behaviour and those responsible will be arrested and brought to justice.”

WMAS Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh, said: “My staff are working night and day to help people during this dreadful pandemic. We have been overwhelmed by the support and gratefulness of so many patients and their loved ones, which is why this case is so shocking.

“We all know the dangers of this virus and the thought that someone would purposefully try and infect the very people there to help her is appalling.

“I am delighted that the Court has shown everyone that such actions will not be tolerated.”





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