A PENRITH man who was "angry and upset" after one of his neighbours ran over his pet rabbit assaulted a police officer.

George Gabura, 37, committed the offence by angrily kicking a police van door after an officer detained him and put him in the rear of the vehicle in handcuffs, Carlisle’s Rickergate court heard.

Magistrates accepted that he had not intended or anticipated the door he kicked then hitting the officer who was behind it. The defendant, of Tyne Close Terrace, Penrith, admitted assaulting an emergency worker.

Prosecutor Peter Kelly said the incident happened at 4.30pm on May 3 after police were called to the defendant’s street because of the rabbit incident.

“The defendant was perhaps understandably upset,” said Mr Kelly. Because Gabura was angry and appeared to be directing this at other people the officers decided to take him into custody.

“While he was being placed into the back of the police vehicle, he kicked out with his foot towards the door,” said Mr Kelly. “The door was being closed and it was not a kick directed at the officer.

“But the door was forced back towards the officer, who instinctively raised his hand to protect his face.” The officer was not injured. Gabura was a man of previous good character, magistrates were told.

Chris Toms, defending, told magistrates: “This all started because, unfortunately, his rabbit was run over by a neighbour and he [the defendant] became angry and upset. It was he who called the police.

“He remained angry and upset, which is what led to his arrest; he remains angry and upset with himself. He was angry because he felt that his cuffs were too tight and, in frustration, he kicked the door.

“He didn’t realise the officer was in its path. It was never his intention to hit the officer. This was essentially a reckless act, and a reckless assault.”

Magistrates noted that the defendant had never been in trouble before and imposed a 12-month conditional discharge, with £85 prosecution costs and a £26 victim surcharge.

This means that, provided Gabura commits no further offences in the next year, he will not be punished for the assault. From the dock of the court, the defendant said: “I deeply regret what happened.”