A BURGLAR who attacked a police officer, spraying a substance into his eyes, has been jailed for five years and nine months.

Drug addict Stuart Whittle assaulted the off-duty officer, who was attempting to arrest him after he crashed a car which he had taken in one of the burglaries he had committed.

Whittle, a 36-year-old prolific thief, committed two burglaries in the Eccles area on November 19, last year, Bolton Crown Court was told.

And after stealing a car in the second break-in he collided with another vehicle in Farnworth.

Mark Brookes, prosecuting, told how Whittle had first broken into a flat in Wellington Road, Eccles, and grabbed a purse before he was found behind a bedroom door by the owner.

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 in Park Road.

This time a car was taken from the house of two elderly people after Whittle asked them for some water.

Whilst the pair were distracted Whittle stole a credit card, debit card and money from them before driving off in their car.

Mr Brookes said he then drove to Farnworth, where he hit another vehicle, in which a man and his son were sat, in Campbell Street.

After trying to blame the occupants of the car for the collision he began shouting “take my girlfriend’s bank card” to the man.

But the commotion was heard by off-duty police officer, Jordan Booth, who intervened and struggled with Whittle in an effort to arrest him.

Mr Brookes told how PC Booth believed that, because of his demeanour, he believed Whittle to be under the influence of drugs.

Whittle told the officer, “I’m going, you’re not arresting me.”

Mr Brookes told the court: “He then produced a can of what the officer describes as CS spray or another similar irritant spray.”

PC Booth described how he felt a burning sensation and his vision was “strongly affected” after he was sprayed in the face.

But despite the injury and being repeatedly punched by Whittle, the officer clung onto him, restraining him on the ground until colleagues arrived.

Judge Timothy Stead heard how Whittle has multiple previous convictions for theft and burglaries.

Whittle, of no fixed address and formerly of Farnworth, pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary, aggravated taking a vehicle without consent, causing actual bodily harm, possessing a prohibited weapon and having no driving licence or insurance.

Nicholas Ross, defending, said: “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 has 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.”

He added that Whittle accepts he acted “appallingly” towards PC Booth.

Judge Timothy Stead sentenced Whittle, who appeared in court via a video link from prison, to five years and nine months in prison.