A furious car passenger hurled abuse at a police officer after he mistakenly identified him as a man he’d fallen out with at the pub.

David Christopher Caven was a passenger in a car when he noticed the man driving on the same road.

Caven mistakenly thought that the police officer - who was not wearing uniform and was driving an unmarked car - was a man who he’d fallen out with just days before.

But within hours of the frightening incident on March 15, the victim, PC Mark Christie, had donned his police uniform and started his shift, using his time at work to track down the man responsible to the Matalan car park, where he promptly arrested him.

At the city’s Rickergate Magistrates’ Court yesterday, Caven, of Briar Lea Court, Longtown, admitted using threatening behaviour.

Pam Ward, prosecuting, said: “He swore at PC Christie,” she explained. The court heard that several expletives were used by Caven towards the police officer.

Mrs Ward continued: “At 9.30pm a constable on duty in plain clothes in an unmarked car was driving on Spencer Street towards Warwick Road. As he halted at a traffic light an Audi appeared beside him, his driver breaking hard for the light.

“He gritted his teeth and said he would smash his (PC Christie’s) face in.

“While driving away the defendant raised the middle finger of his left hand, making a sign.”

PC Christie - who noticed there were two men in the car - was then abused.

“The passenger - later identified as David Caven - put the window down, lent out in seatbelt, gritted his teeth and aggressively made a threat to PC Christie, saying ‘I will smash your head in’,” said Mrs Ward.

The police officer then proceeded to search for the vehicle in question. Mrs Ward added: “PC Christie went to search for the vehicle and saw the defendant in the Matalan car park and he (the defendant) was compliant. He said ‘some lad had a go at me in the pub and I thought it was him’.”

Defending the 25-year-old was lawyer Gail Heard.

She said: “He pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. The offence itself was rather impulsive. Not the kind of behaviour you would expect at the traffic lights. He has had some time to reflect on his behaviour and he accepts responsibility for it.

“He was coming back from work getting a lift. When the vehicle stopped he looked to his left and saw PC Christie, but he got the identity wrong, he thought it was the man who had a go at him a couple of days earlier. He wound his window down and made threats, but there was no suggestion he had any intention to get out of the vehicle.”

Caven was fined £300, told to pay costs of £85 and to pay a surcharge of £35 to fund victim services.