A PROLIFIC burglar sprayed a noxious substance into the eyes of a police officer after being arrested following two break-ins, a court heard.

Stuart Whittle, 36, of no fixed abode and originally from Farnworth, committed two burglaries on November 19, last year, in Eccles, Bolton Crown Court heard.

After taking a car during the second burglary, he crashed in Farnworth, damaging another vehicle.Then he sprayed a noxious substance at an off-duty police officer who attempted to arrest him.

Prosecutor Mark Brookes said Whittle broke into a flat in Wellington Road, Eccles, and stole a purse and its contents.

Whittle was then found behind a bedroom door by an occupant of the house, Judge Timothy Stead heard.

Mr Brookes said: “There is a struggle between the two of them and he manages to push him out of the room and out of the property and lock the door behind him.”

The victim said he was “the most scared I ever felt in my life” and that he now wanted to move home.

The incident at around 9.10am was quickly followed by another burglary around half an hour later.

This resulted in a car being taken from the house of two elderly residents, after Whittle asked for a kettle of water, said Mr Brookes.

Whittle took a credit card, debit card and money while the pair were distracted.

He then drove the car to Farnworth, where he hit another car in Campbell Street, causing damage to the vehicle, in which with a man and his son were sat, the court was told.

The defendant tried to blame the man for the issue, shouting “take my girlfriend’s bank card” to the man.

An off-duty police officer, PC Jordan Booth, spotted the commotion and approached the incident, before struggling with Whittle in an effort to arrest him.

Mr Brookes said: “[PC Booth] describes the defendant’s demeanour as likely under the influence of drugs. He then said the defendant said to him ‘I’m going, you’re not arresting me’ - he then produced a can of what the officer describes as CS spray or another similar irritant spray.”

The officer described a “burning sensation” with his vision “strongly affected” after being sprayed in the face. Despite Whittle swinging a series of punches, PC Booth was able to restrain Whittle on the floor until other officers arrived.

Whittle has previously been jailed for burglaries in the Farnworth area.

Defending, Nick Ross said: “He accepts and understands a lengthy custodial sentence is coming his way. He is realistic as to his position. He, in candour, says that for a few days he had been drinking with friends and also taking drugs which had been the main source or trigger for his downfall down the years. His recollection is poor. He would wish it to be said that these were not sophisticated offences.”

Mr Ross said the defendant believed he had acted “appallingly” to the officer. Whittle is due to be sentenced on Friday.