A MAN who spat on a police officer and assaulted another has walked free from court.

Blackburn magistrates heard Ian Gibbons had been jailed last year for assaulting an emergency worker. But the chairman of the magistrates said they had decided he required rehabilitation to deal with alcohol issues.

Gibbons, 52, of Stansfeld Street, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to two charges of assaulting an emergency worker. He was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months and given a community order with alcohol treatment and 15 days rehabilitation activity. He was ordered to pay £68 compensation to each officer and £85 costs.

Tracy Yates, prosecuting, said police had responded to reports of a man causing issues in Snowdon Avenue. Officers told him to leave but he refused and was arrested to prevent a breach of the peace.

Mrs Yates said: “In the back of the van he started spitting and kicking.” At the police station Gibbons struggled violently, elbowing one officer in the chest, kicking out and spitting.

“He was shouting abuse and saying he was going to spit everywhere,” said Mrs Yates. “He tried to kick an officer and was pepper-sprayed to gain compliance.”

When the officers eventually got Gibbons to the custody desk he was screaming at an officer and spit hit him in the eye.

Mrs Yates said: “When he was interviewed the following day he said he had no idea where he had been and why he was in the police cells. He accepted that he was hepatitis C positive. He also said he had drunk more than 20 cans of lager.”

Jonathan Taylor, defending, said his client was extremely remorseful.”