A police officer has been handed £1,000 in compensation - for being spat on.
Even the female officer's own union bosses described the payout - the highest magistrates could order - as 'astonishing'.
Lee Birtles, of Rock Street, Barnsley, narrowly avoided being jailed on Monday after admitting assaulting PC Sarah Botham.
She was spat at while Birtles was being restrained at Barnsley police station. He had been arrested for breaching the peace and officers were trying to stop him from hurting himself.
PC Botham feared she had contracted hepatitis after swallowing some spittle in the incident although tests later proved negative.
Neil Bowles, South Yorkshire Police Federation chairman and treasurer described the payout as 'quite astonishing' but added: "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."
Yesterday, jobless father-of-two Birtles told the Chronicle he had not expected the compensation order to be so high and claimed he had not intended to spit at PC Botham.
He said he had been pepper sprayed at the time of the offence and was clearing his mouth.
Chronicle readers joined the debate on our Facebook page where opinion was divided. Tracey Hubbery said: "I hate spitting - there's nothing worse. But seriously £1,000 compensation? For what?"
Debbie Masterman added: "I think the price was right. Why was he pepper sprayed in the first place? If he hadn't been up to no good in the first place the whole incident wouldn't have occurred. Let it be a lesson to others."
Scott Phillips said: "Of course £1,000 is too much. I was attacked, cut, bruised and grazed and I was only awarded £350. I only ended up getting £60 of that."
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