Woman spat on police officer after calling 999 for help on New Year's Eve

A woman who spat at a police officer after she rang 999 to report that her husband had assaulted her has avoided jail.

Heather Garbutt-Iley made the call on New Year's Eve 2020 but a court heard she began acting awkwardly towards officers when they arrived.

Prosecutor Michael Bunch told Newcastle Crown Court: "Police were initially contacted shortly before 8.30 that evening by the defendant who reported she had been assaulted by her husband."

However, when they got there, a decision was made to take her into custody because she was refusing to leave the address and was behaving in a more agitated manner than her husband.

Heather Garbutt-Iley.

Mr Bunch told the court how events went on to unfold after the decision was made by officers at the scene to take her in.

He said: "She was placed into handcuffs and taken in the back of a police car and a police officer got in alongside.

"She said every time the defendant spoke, she was spitting.

"The officer, during the course of the exchange, asked the defendant to sit quietly.

"The defendant continued to talk. As a result of that spit landed on the officer's arm."Mr Bunch said that the officer warned the defendant that spitting at an officer would result in her being locked up for assault.

The court heard that Iley-Gardbutt replied saying: 'Have you got a witness?' before again spitting on the officer's arm and she was arrested.

The 61-year-old of Ferndale Grove, East Boldon, who has three previous convictions and has since served a prison sentence for fraud admitted assault.

Nicholas Lane, defending, explained the background to the court and gave her side of events during the proceedings.

He said: "There is a history both in her previous relationships and in this one.

"I'm told on this particular evening there had been an incident inside her home which led her to call the police.

"There have been no further incidents or difficulties in the marital home.

"She is assessed as a low risk of offending and low risk of serious harm."

Mr Lane added that the marriage was settled now and that they rely on each other as both are registered disabled.

Judge Sarah Mallet told her that the courts have to do everything they can to support the police in cases such as these.

In handing down the sentence, the judge told the defendant: "I don't know what the rights and wrongs of the incident that led to the police being called but I have seen what you were like when police attended at your house.

"You were eventually arrested and placed in the police car and you were warned by the police officer that when you were talking, spit was spraying and you were asked to sit quietly but you didn't."

However, the judge wanted to give her the opportunity to continue working with the relevant services following her recent custodial sentence.

She sentenced her to three months behind bars, suspended for 18 months alongside 20 rehabilitation days.