A persistent offender who spat at a court prosecutor has been jailed for 19 days.
Robert George Fenwick Ball lost his temper during an appearance at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court when it became apparent he was to be remanded in custody.
Ball, who was already in handcuffs in the glass-walled dock, hurled abuse then spat twice at prosecutor Claire Irving.
Spittle landed on Ms Irving’s arm and cheek before he was restrained and taken to the cells.
Ball, 34, has been in custody since the incident in June.
He was dealt with at Teesside Magistrates’ Court, appearing via videolink from Holme House Prison, Stockton.
“Ms Irving was prosecuting cases in the remand court in South Shields,” said Paul Doney, prosecuting.
“Ball appeared to answer to an allegation of domestic violence.
“After hearing the case, the bench decided he would be remanded in custody, partly due to his previous convictions, and partly due to the vulnerability of the victim.
“At this point Ball became agitated, and hurled abuse at the bench and Ms Irving.
“She was updating the case on her laptop when Ball spat first, the spittle landing on her arm.
“He spat a second time, this time hitting her on the cheek.”
The court heard Ms Irving has been prosecuting cases for 17 years.
“She comments this is the first time anything like this has happened to her,” said Mr Doney.
“She was carrying out her duties as a public servant, and fully accepts some defendants will not be happy with a court’s decision.
“But she was distressed and disgusted to be physically assaulted.
“She comments she would rather be punched than spat on.”
Ball, formerly of Trinity Street, Sunderland, now of no fixed abode, admitted common assault on June 19.
Christopher Wilson, defending, said: “Mr Ball has more than 100 previous convictions, meaning he has appeared in court many, many times
“This is the first time he has behaved in such a disgraceful way.
“Mr Ball is currently recalled to prison on licence, and he is due to be released on November 30.
“I invite the court to pass a sentence which won’t add significantly to the time he has to serve.”
The bench sentenced Ball to 19 days in prison, to begin at the end of his current sentence. Ball was ordered to pay £100 compensation to Ms Irving.