A MAN who racially abused a driver in a Nelson street, struck in front of an off-duty police officer, a court heard.

The officer had told James Matthews he was a policeman, but Matthews didn’t believe him and carried on shouting threats, Burnley Crown Court was told.

Jobless Matthews, 26, who had been out of trouble for five years, was said to have been chased by the other man in their vehicles, and, according to witnesses, had seemed frightened.

The defendant, of Pinfold Place, Nelson, had admitted racially aggravated fear or provocation of violence, last August.

He was given a two year conditional discharge.

Emma Kehoe, prosecuting,said the officer was on Broadway Place, Nelson, just before 10am, when two vehicles pulled into the street where he was standing. The complainant got out of his car and Matthews racially abused him and shouted: “I know where you live.”

The officer shouted at Matthews: “Stop that now,” and the complainant pointed towards the officer and said: “He's a police officer.” Matthew swore and said : “You're no policeman.” The officer noted the registration number of the defendant's vehicle, which drove off after some more shouting. It came back a short time later and Mathews again shouted at the other driver: “I know where you live,” and verbally abused him some more.

Philip Holden, for Matthews, said it was a very unpleasant incident, borne, the defendant would say, out of him being chased after an altercation at a shop.

Judge Beverley Lunt said Matthews’ words had been “verbal bullying,” and continued: “They are nasty things for anybody to have shouted at them.”

The judge, who said it looked like Matthews had done some growing up until the offence, described the case as " " very bizarre" as, she wenton: “Everyone agrees it was the other man who was the real aggressor.”