AN OFF-duty police officer was assaulted when she tackled a drunk driver on a Sunday afternoon.

Blackburn magistrates heard PC Elizabeth Ryan was shopping for a Father’s Day present for her dad when she tried to stop Bradley Connor driving off the Tesco car park in Blackburn.

Connor, 25, of Parsonage Road, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker in the execution of her duty and failing to provide a specimen for analysis. He was made subject to a community order for 12 months with 150 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay £400 compensation to PC Ryan. He was banned from driving for 16 months.

Deputy District Judge Duncan Birrell said it was difficult to comprehend that an industrious, ambitious young man, running his own business, could behave in the way described.

“You were clearly very impaired, perhaps because you underestimated the impact of the painkillers you had taken with the alcohol you had drunk,” said Deputy District Judge Birrell. “That does not explain the appalling way you reacted to the officer. She was doing nothing more than what was right and what was her duty.”

Rachel Ottley, prosecuting, said the officer was driving onto the Tesco car park when she noticed a vehicle in her rear view mirror which was being driven erratically.

She watched the driver get out of his car and formed the impression he was under the influence of alcohol. She saw him in the shop buying two bottles of wine and informed security staff who said they would help her ensure he didn’t drive away in his car.

When he came out of the shop Connor was holding the bottles of wine and shouting: “Are you coming to my party?”

“He got into the driver’s seat of his car and started the engine but PC Ryan managed to reach in and remove the keys,” said Ms Ottley. “The defendant became agitated and after being removed from his car was flailing around.”

Ms Ottley said Connor struck the officer in the abdomen with his knee.

“He was shouting “Covid, Covid” and spat at the officer and the security staff,” she said.

In a statement PC Ryan said it was one thing to be assaulted while in uniform but not when she was out shopping.

“I don’t expect to be threatened with coronavirus when carrying out an arrest,” she said.

Jonathan Taylor, defending, said his client had a welding and fabrication business and had fought hard to keep it going through lockdown.

On the day he had excruciating toothache and took medication. “He also drank some wine and then went to get some more,” said Mr Taylor. “He is extremely remorseful for what he has done.”