A woman who crashed her canal boat before biting a police officer and saying " by the way I've got coronavirus" has been jailed for five months.

Jailing Daisy Lovatt at Swindon Crown Court, Judge Jason Taylor QC accused the 32-year-old of weaponising the virus said: "Police officers do a difficult job at the best of times and they have a right to go about their daily public duty without fear of being assaulted. But that is even more important when they are working tirelessly to protect the public in a climate of fear caused by a global pandemic."

Prosecutor Tessa Hingston said Lovatt had been on her boat on the Kennet and Avon Canal near Bradford-on-Avon on May 23, swearing at passers by – including fishermen out enjoying the sunny weather.

She was seen throwing items from her boat, including tin cans, upsetting a father-and-son and causing the boy to cry.

The woman, who had been drinking cider, tried to move her canal boat. But windy conditions meant she struggled to control the barge, causing her to crash into another boat – causing approximately £2,000-worth of damage and resulting in the owner paying a £250 excess.

Police were called and two officers, PCs Fry and Aubrey, managed to convince her to disembark.

She was verbally aggressive telling the constables: “I haven’t done anything. I was shouting at people who were on the f***ing path.”

The woman scuffled with the officers, biting PC Fry’s arm and pressing her teeth down harder when she was asked to stop. One of the officers was forced to punch her in the face in order to stop her from biting. Both were said to have been uneasy about the amount of force they had had to use.

After she stopped biting the constable, Lovatt said: “By the way I’ve got coronavirus.” She soon after told the officers she did not have the virus.

In victim impact statements, both officers spoke of their dread at hearing the words. PC Fry, who has a wife and two young children, said he was fearful of bringing the virus home. He had to go to hospital and was put on a seven-day course of antibiotics.

She blew 67 on the police station breathalyser, almost twice the drink-drive limit for those piloting boats.

Lovatt, formerly of the Kennet and Avon Canal, pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court to two counts of assaulting emergency workers, disorderly behaviour, piloting a boat while under the influence of alcohol and possession of cocaine.

Nicholas Clough, defending, said the actions of his client that day were completely out of character and she was very remorseful. She had only one caution on her record, for possession of drugs in 2008, but was otherwise a woman of previous good character.

The lawyer said Lovatt had faced abuse at the hands of a man who had invited her onto his canal boat when she had found herself temporarily homeless.

He said she would find prison exceptionally hard.

But the judge said appropriate punishment could only be achieved by prison. Judge Taylor said: “I acknowledge this was spontaneous and isolated. I acknowledge that you backtracked. I acknowledge that you apologised at the scene and also in a subsequent letter. I also take into account you are a lady of good character and you are genuinely remorseful.

“But not withstanding all of these factors in your favour, you must understand and the message must be crystal clear: this court will protect emergency workers. Attacks, especially during the current crisis, will not be tolerated.”