A drunk tree surgeon crashed her canal boat into another vessel then bit a police officer – claiming she had coronavirus.

Daisy Lovatt, 32, apologised to the officer and clarified that she had not suffered from the virus.

But prosecutor Graham Dono told Swindon magistrates that the comment had left the officer she bit filled with dread.

The boat dweller will face a crown court judge next month after the justices said their powers of punishment were insufficient to deal with her crimes.

The magistrates’ court was told police were called to the path along the Kennet and Avon Canal near Bradford on Avon on Saturday afternoon after reports of a woman hurling threats and abuse at passers-by – including parents with young children. She was also said to have thrown cans from her boat.

One man, who was walking along the canal path with his young son, described seeing Lovatt steering her 22-foot vessel erratically onto the other side of the canal before crashing it into another canal boat. The prang cracked the other boat.

When police officers arrived at the scene Lovatt was still on her boat and appeared to be upset, screaming and shouting. She drifted to the officers’ side of the canal.

She was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly and resisted efforts to restrain her. She bit one of the constables on the arm, breaking the skin, and kicked another.

Mr Dono said: “Both officers are right by the canal and were aware and concerned they could be knocked into the canal by the defendant’s behaviour.

“Following the assault on the officers, the bite and the kicking out, Miss Lovatt is heard to say ‘I have coronavirus’, causing the officers extreme distress and concern.”

The constable who had been bitten, a PC Fry, said the comment had filled him with dread.

The woman soon clarified her apparent threat, saying she did not have coronavirus and had not suffered any symptoms.

She was breathalysed at Melksham police station and blew 67 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The drink drive limit for amateur sailors in charge of a boat is 25.

Appearing before Swindon Magistrates’ Court via video link from the police station, Lovatt, of the Kennet and Avon Canal, near Bradford on Avon, pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting a police officer, using threatening words with intent to cause fear, possession of cocaine and an offence under the Railways and Transport Safety Act of having drunk excess alcohol while in charge of a boat.

Mark Glendenning, defending, said his client had no previous convictions and had suffered difficult personal circumstances in the run up to Saturday’s incident.

She did not have an issue with alcohol, but had been drinking on Saturday. She accepted throwing items from her 22’ boat, but it was part of a clear-out and she had not been throwing the items at anybody. The wind had made it harder to control her small boat.

Lovatt had “made a stupid comment” to the officers about having coronavirus but had immediately apologised, the solicitor said.

Magistrates bailed Lovatt to be sentenced at Swindon crown Court on June 19. Chairman of the bench Janet Morgan said: “This was a very nasty incident and I’m sure you appreciate telling anyone you’ve got coronavirus after you’ve just bitten them will have caused them huge amounts of stress.”