A LONE police officer was confronted by five drunken men in Darwen town centre.

Blackburn magistrates heard one of the gang stuck two fingers up at the officer and asked him what he was going to do about it.

The brave bobby's response was to slap Samuel James Monk across the face in a pre-emptive strike and then take him to the ground with a leg swipe.

At that point the defendant's friends ran off and the officer was able to execute his arrest despite Monk struggling violently.

Monk, 23, of Eden Street, Bolton, pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly in Railway Road, Darwen.

He was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay £85 costs and £21 victim surcharge.

The court heard at the time of the offence Monk was subject to a suspended prison sentence imposed by the crown court for an offence of wounding.

Sajeeda Ismail, prosecuting, said members of the public were crossing to the opposite side of Railway Road because of the behaviour of Monk and his friends.

"When the officer arrived he was outnumbered five to one," said Miss Ismail.

"When the defendant made the two fingered gesture he slapped him hard to the side of his face as a preemptive strike."

Jonathan Taylor, defending, said his client apologised for the way he had behaved in drink.

"He was slapped to the face, had his legs taken from under him and spent a night in the cells as a result," said Mr Taylor.