THE behaviour of a man who spat at and bit a police officer when he attended a report of domestic violence has been branded 'appalling' by a judge.

Andrew Stephenson lashed out when officers attempted to restrain him after using a Taser to stop him continuing to attack them.

Durham Constabulary Chief Constable Jo Farrell told Teesside Crown Court that the officer was forced to have medical tests following the attack during the height of the ongoing Covid pandemic.

PC Harry Weir attended the 30-year-old's home in the The Sidings, Darlington, on December 18 last year when Stephenson launched his vile attack.

The court heard he was so violent that he had to be Tasered, and put in leg restraints and a spitting hood.

Jane Foley, prosecuting, said that Stephenson was detained as he ran from the rear of the property.

She added: "As a result of a struggle he was Tasered and placed into handcuffs, but he continued struggling with officers.”

The officer took hold of his head and attempted to place a spitting hood on him but he began to bang his head on the ground.

The defendant spat at him on his hand, trousers and his boot.

He then bit the officer’s middle finger breaking the skin, and the spitting hood and leg restraints were fitted.

Miss Foley said that Stephenson had previous convictions for assaulting a police officer, robbery, wounding and possession of a blade. He also had a history of spitting at officers.

PC Weir said in a victim impact statement: "I had too have blood tests to determine if there was a virus or infection passed on to me.

“It was worrying cause I had to consider any risk to those dearest to me.”

The Chief Constable said: "Each time an officer or member of staff is assaulted it impacts upon absences, and upon our ability to serve the public.”

Martin Towers, defending,said: "There is really little to be said by way of mitigation. He himself suffered a significant injury has a result of the behaviour for which he was responsible.

“He was seen a couple of times by the police doctor. I am instructed that he has scarring on his forehead and he was also Tasered for his trouble.”

The judge said that there would be little sympathy for the injury probably caused by banging his head on the ground while trying to avoid being placed in the hood after spitting at the officer.

Judge Jonathan Carroll said that it was an appalling and disgraceful incident.

He added: "We are in the middle of an epidemic, and you behave in this truly appalling way.”

Stephenson is currently serving a prison sentence with an earliest release date of June and the judge jailed him for another eight months after he pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker.