A SLEEPING drunk became a fighting drunk when police roused him from his slumbers on a bench outside McDonalds in Rawtenstall.

Blackburn magistrates William Ludlow-Foster lashed out at the officer when he took him by the arm to wake him and struggled violently.

The officer had to make a pre-emptive strike and use pepper spray before the defendant became compliant and could be arrested.

Ludlow-Foster, 20, of Derwent Close, Haslingden, pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker. He was ordered to do 40 hours unpaid work and pay £200 compensation to the officer.

Scott Parker, prosecuting, said police were called to McDonald's at 6.30 m on March 1 and on arrival found a large group of people outside the restaurant. A member of staff pointed out Ludlow-Foster and another male and said they had been responsible for causing a disturbance before the police turned up.

"The defendant was sitting on a bench with his head in his hands and appeared to be asleep," said Mr Parker. "His friend was trying to help the officer wake him up. He was asked to leave several times and eventually the officer took him by the arm in an attempt to rouse him."

Mr Parker said the defendant lashed out and caught the officer.

Lucy Crossman, defending, said her client played football for two team and was very health conscious.

"He is not someone who drinks regularly but it was his birthday the day before and he had consumed a considerable amount of alcohol," said Miss Crossman.

"When the police arrived he was asleep so I'm not really sure why they went to him.

"He was woken by a man pulling at his arm and he lashed out at that man who turned out to be a police officer. He was punched twice in the face, splitting his lip, pepper-sprayed and locked in a cell for a night so there has already been an element of punishment."

Miss Crossman said Ludlow-Foster had no previous convictions and had not been in trouble since.

"This was a completely isolated incident," said Miss Crossman.