Man who slaps people if they sneeze in public being hunted by police

UK: Police are hunting a middle-aged man who is slapping High Street shoppers in his town if they sneeze.

In what Cumbria Police admit is 'very unusual behaviour', the man first smacked a woman round the head after she sneezed in Carlisle on Monday.

Then on Tuesday, officers believe the same man launched a second attack on a frail pensioner who also had a bout of the sniffles.

In that shocking incident an 82 year-old woman who had just sneezed was slapped over the head in broad daylight at 11.30am in Scotch Street, Carlisle.

Police described their strange suspect as being in his mid-to-late 50s and wearing a plush, tweed jacket.

The force have now asked for anyone with any information about, or who witnessed, the two related incidents to contact them.

They have been informed about the first attack by witnesses - but have yet to trace the first female victim.

However the force said they are investigating two head-slapping incidents - and believe they are related crimes.

Sgt Gill Cherry said: “We are treating these two reported incidents as linked, and are appealing to the local community to help trace the man responsible.

“It is very unusual behaviour, and will have left his victims feeling confused and upset.”

Shoppers in Carlisle said they were bemused but frightened by the oddball’s behaviour.

Trainee shop assistant Gemma Prosser, 19, said: “We heard as it happened in the town centre and at first we just thought it was a bit weird.

“When you think about it, it is really awful because anyone can sneeze at any time and it’s not your fault.”

Worried dental receptionist Nicola Dawson, 48, who was visiting from nearby Kendal, said: “I have come here shopping on my day off and actually have a cold.

“If anyone smacked me for sneezing I would smack them back."