A JUDGE has spoken of the "vital" service provided by the police as he jailed a Carlisle woman who spat at two officers while claiming she had coronavirus.

The city's crown court heard how on April 24, Kathleen Knaggs, 27, was drunk, abusive and violent after police were called to the scene of a road accident in Botcherby, where they found her drinking alcohol from a bottle.

They suspected she was involved in the accident and asked her to provide a breath specimen.

But when one of the officers confiscated the bottle Knaggs was holding, the defendant lashed out, punching the officer in the face and slapping her.

"The officer removed the bottle from the defendant's hand and was immediately struck to the face," said prosecutor Beth Pilling.

The barrister said the whole incident lasted for seven minutes as officers battled to control the defendant.

Even when she was taken to the city's Durranhill police HQ, Knaggs continued refusing to provide a breath specimen.

Knaggs followed her punch with a slap to the same officer's face. It was during the ensuing struggle that Knaggs spat at the two police officers who were there, telling them she had coronavirus and was HIV positive.

She struggled so much that the first spit hood officers put on her came off and had to be replaced. The defendant, of Borland Avenue, was restrained by several officers.

At the time, she was under a suspended 24 month jail sentence for stabbing her former boyfriend, the court heard. Defence lawyer Sean Harkin said she was remorseful, and could hardly believe what she had done.

"She's someone who, generally speaking, does not go about committing offences," said the lawyer. Knaggs had been working well with the Probation Service, and what happened was an "aberration", said Mr Harkin.

Knaggs admitted two offences of assaulting an emergency worker - a police officer; and failing to provide a breath specimen for analysis.

Judge Nicholas Barker told her: "Your conduct was quite appalling.

"You were implacable; you were drunk, and you remained uncooperative, aggressive, and highly abusive throughout this incident.

"It was an extreme incident, where you had to be restrained, not only with handcuffs.

"It was necessary to restrain your legs."

She had resisted so violently that it took no fewer than five police officers to restrain her and get her into the police van.

The judge added: "As far as the police officers are concerned, they provide a vital service to our communities. They are there to ensure that we are all kept safe; and to apply the law; and to ensure peace and good order.

"What they are not are objects of abuse; what they are not are objects of physical violence. They may be police officers but first and foremost they are human beings and they demand and require the respect of others. You offered them not one moment of respect on that day."

Summarising the defendant's previous wounding offence, the judge said Knaggs had on that occasion been drinking and was out of control.

She had punched her former partner and stabbed him repeatedly in the arms and legs, causing serious injuries.

She had been fortunate to have been given a suspended sentence on that occasion, said the judge.

He told the defendant: "Regrettably, on the night of April 24, you clearly lost all control of yourself and as your counsel observed, these matters do cross the custody threshold."

As well as imposing a total jail term of 14 months - six months for the police assaults and eight for the reactivated suspended sentence - the judge banned Knaggs from driving for 18 months from the day of her release.