A self-employed drain cleaner arrested during a night out in Carlisle spent the entire journey to the police station spitting at the inside of the van.

The city’s Rickergate court heard that Daniel John Spiers, 30, argued with the police officer who told him his actions amounted to criminal damage, declaring: “Eh? That’s not criminal damage!”

But in court, he admitted that offence.

Andy Travers, prosecuting, said the defendant was arrested shortly before 10pm on July 4 in Botchergate for an unrelated matter.

“When being transported to the Carlisle custody suite at Durranhill he continually spat in the back of the police van and he was also verbally abusive to the officers,” said the prosecutor.

“He was spitting over every part of the cage, including the camera.

“A police constable told him that he would be arrested for criminal damage.”

That was when the defendant questioned whether that was the case, saying: “It’s not like I’ve broken anything.”

Even when he arrived at Durranhill, he spat on to the custody desk and the floor.

The police van had to be professionally cleaned, said Mr Travers.

The court heard that Spiers, of Whernside, Carlisle, had 66 offences on his criminal record but they were mostly committed a long time ago.

His last offence was in March of 2018 for resisting a police officer and breach of a suspended sentence.

In January, he was before the court for being drunk and disorderly.

John Smith, for Spiers, said he was before the courts regularly as a youth but he was now a father and a self-employed drain cleaner with his own business.

“He’s on call 24 hours a day and he’s been working very, very hard during the lockdown,” said Mr Smith.

“From the start of lockdown until the pubs opened on July 4, he was working exceptionally hard.

“He earned a lot of money.

“So on July 4, Mr Spiers, having been under a lot of pressure, went out to entertain himself royally.”

At the time of his arrest, which led to no further action, Spiers felt he had done nothing wrong.

“But he apologises for his behaviour,” said Mr Smith, saying that while nobody liked spitting there was no lasting damage.

Magistrates said Spiers should appreciate the danger of spitting given his role as a professional cleaner.

“It’s is a disgusting thing to do,” said the presiding magistrate, adding that this was particularly so during a pandemic.

They fined the defendant £333, with a £34 victim surcharge and £85 costs.

He must also pay £100 to cover the cost of cleaning the van.