A CARLISLE man who head-butted a police officer amid an "utterly disgraceful catalogue of drunken, loutish behaviour" has been spared immediate prison.

John Reay's offending began after he was refused service in the Bronx bar, opposite the Border Rambler in Botchergate, because he was "too drunk".

Reay, 39, "spat at the barman", was "threatening and abusive", and a scuffle ensued in which punches were exchanged, Carlisle Crown Court heard yesterday.

Prosecutor Brendan Burke outlined what happened in the early hours of December 15, 2017.

He said Reay walked off at one stage "still shouting abuse and threatening to burn the barman's house down".

After being subjected to a serious unprovoked attack himself and injured, Reay was taken to hospital.

But while being escorted from a toilet by two police officers, he head-butted one, PC Christopher Blakey, in the face, causing bleeding, soreness and reddening.

"He suddenly drops to the floor. They bring him to his feet, at which he head-butts PC Blakey to the face," said Mr Burke.

Reay, of High Meadow, Carlisle, pleaded guilty to two offences. He admitted affray and causing actual bodily harm assault to the police officer.

Judge James Adkin heard of Reay's medical background and a "history of stress, anxiety and depression".

The qualified engineer, a father-of-three, had been off work on medical grounds in December 2017 and had turned to alcohol, the court was told.

Russell Davies, defending, called the incident "out of character".

The barrister suggested Reay, who has been out of trouble for more than a decade, be spared immediate imprisonment as this would have a huge impact on his family and employment.

Reay had perceived himself to be the "victim" that night, but had since expressed "genuine remorse" for an incident which Mr Davies conceded had been "all very unpleasant and drunken".

After hearing mitigation, and noting Reay's charity work, Judge Adkin announced an "exceptional course".

He suspended a 14-month jail term for two years.

Reay must complete a six-month night-time curfew, rehabilitation and pay compensation to the PC and civilian he attacked.

Passing sentence, Judge Adkin said of his offending: "On any view it was an utterly disgraceful catalogue of drunken, loutish behaviour."