A 'CORONAVIRUS' threat yob who deliberately coughed into the face of a volunteer special constable has been handed a 19-month prison sentence.

Scott Rooney was told by a sheriff that jail was the only option in his case in order to protect the people of Inverclyde - and act as a deterrent to others.

Aerosol gas-snorting Rooney, 24, had told the unpaid volunteer that he had Covid-19 and coughed on him within Greenock police office.

At the time of the offence in April deaths from the disease were beginning to mount around the district, the worst-hit area in Scotland.

Sheriff Andrew McIntyre told Rooney: "You will appreciate the serious nature of this offence, particularly in the current circumstances within the community here in Inverclyde.

"Whether or not you had Covid or its symptoms, you acted in a reckless manner to the danger of infecting another.

"At the time the dangers were well known within the community.

"You did not know whether you had Covid or whether you would have infected this special constable who was undertaking a public service on a voluntary basis.

"His example of public service is to be commended."

Rooney's lawyer Aidan Gallagher acknowledged that the fear of possibly having been affected would have weighed heavily on the unpaid special constable.

Mr Gallagher said: "Thankfully there was no harm, but it is accepted that the potential of what could have happened would have been on his mind."

He told the court: "Mr Rooney accepts that his behaviour was totally unacceptable given the ongoing pandemic."

Rooney, formerly of Greenock's East Street, was intoxicated on lighter fluid and so-called 'street valium' when his mother contacted the police for help.

He pleaded guilty at a previous calling of the indictment matter last month to culpably and recklessly coughing on the special constable.

Rooney was on bail regarding two other criminal matters at the time and was also subject to a community payback order over a threat to kill his mother and struggling violently with police.

Solicitor Mr Gallagher said: "Drink and drugs have been a significant fact and problem for Mr Rooney throughout his teenage years and into his early adulthood and this has led to his pattern of offending.

"In sobriety he has reflected upon the threats he made towards his mother, whom he knows has been the only one who's been there for him, and he is now able to appreciate that."

The court heard previously that Rooney started drinking and taking drugs at the age of 12.

Sheriff McIntyre told him: "Matters are much worse for you because of your record, which includes causing serious harm to others over the years."

Rooney previously carried out a booze-fuelled knife attack which left his victim permanently disfigured.

He slashed a man eight times with a blade during an all-day drinking session involving Mad Dog wine, vodka, whisky and cider.

His 19-month sentence has been backdated to April 14, when he was first remanded in custody.