1,000 fine for spitting at a police officer: Unemployed thug ordered to pay compensation to woman PC… and even Police Federation 'astonished' by size of awardLee Birtles spat at Sarah Botham in police station1,000 fine described as 'astonishing' by police union
Daily Mail Reporter
13:35 GMT, 4 January 2013
13:47 GMT, 4 January 2013
A female police officer has been awarded 1,000 compensation from a criminal who spat at her when she was trying to restrain him.
PC Sarah Botham feared she could have caught hepatits from the spittle of unemployed father of two Lee Birtles, but tests later proved negative.
Her compensation award is the maximum allowed by law – and even the local Police Federation described the penalty as 'quite astonishing'.
Police: A PC has been awarded 1,000 compensation by a detainee who spat at her (file photo)
Birtles narrowly avoided prison at Barnsley Magistrates' Court in South Yorkshire after he admitted assaulting Ms Botham.
The officer worried that she may have contracted hepatitis after swallowing some of the defendant's spittle during the incident.
Birtles had been arrested for breaching the peace and officers were trying to prevent him harming himself at Barnsley police station.
Matthew Shepherd, defending, said the risk of Ms Botham catching hepatitis was 'remote', and Birtles was sorry for his actions.
Presiding magistrate Carole Howard said Birtles had come close to being jailed, and added that she had been 'distressed' to hear about his behaviour.
As well as paying 1,000 compensation, Birtles was given a six-month curfew, ordered to pay 85 costs and a 60 victim surcharge.
Court: Lee Birtles was ordered to pay the penalty by magistrates in Barnsley
After the hearing Neil Bowles, chairman of the South Yorkshire Police Federation said: 'The payout is quite astonishing.
'But punishments like this are an essential deterrent to assaults on officers in any manner let alone a vile offence like this. The officer also had to await test results.'
Birtles said afterwards he had no expected to pay so much compensation and claimed he had not intended to spit at the officer.
He said he had been pepper-sprayed as he was being restrained. 'I was spitting to get it out of my mouth as I was handcuffed and my eyes were pretty much glued together,' he insisted.
'I have apologised and I'm glad I didn't get a jail sentence but the amount of compensation is high.'