A MAN who allegedly coughed on a police officer and told him 'I've got coronavirus, I hope you die' has appeared at court.

Tommy Butler went on to tell police - who had come to arrest him on a warrant - 'I f***ed your missus, you are a c**t', prosecutors claim.

Wearing a face mask and gloves Butler appeared via videolink at Oxford Magistrates' Court today from Newbury police station.

The 27-year-old of Farnborough Road, Mollington, near Banbury, pleaded not guilty to one count of theft and another count of assaulting an emergency worker.

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He also denied one count of failing to attend court -ordered appointments.

Outlining the case at the hearing prosecutor Clare Barclay said that police had gone to arrest Butler on Saturday after a 'distraction theft' carried out in January last year.

She said that the victim of that theft was a 'vulnerable, elderly' lady.

Prosecutors claim that Butler, together with another, was at the woman's home in Banbury, having a cup of tea, when a distraction was caused.

That distraction, she said, led to the theft of her bag, with perfume, jewellery and other items taken.

The court heard that he failed to surrender to custody and police went on the hunt for him.

It was not until March 28 this year that police officers caught up with him and carried out an area search at an address in Banbury.

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Cornering him in a garden, prosecutors said, Butler was found underneath a barbecue.

He was then told to get down on the floor and was arrested and it was as he was being escorted to the police vehicle that prosecutors claim he carried out the assault.

Quoting the alleged victim's statement Ms Barclay said: "He coughed in my face from a distance of one-foot.

"He said 'ha, I have got coronavirus, I hope you will die. I f***ed your missus, you are a c**t.'"

Butler denies all the charges he faces.

Addressing the court during the hearing he claimed he didn't know that there was a warrant out for him until he was arrested.

Explaining why he ran from officers he said: "I thought I was going to be arrested on lockdown, that's why I ran, because I was scared.

"I didn't really understand what was going on, I tried to explain that to the police officer when he explained that to me."

Butler went on to say he was 'sorry for everything I caused' and added that he has 'no symptoms' but had his own problems.

District Judge Kamlesh Rana, presiding, adjourned the case for a trial date to be fixed.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic Oxford Magistrates' Court - which remains open - is not currently listing new trial dates.

Butler will appear again for a pre-trial hearing on Friday.