A SECURITY guard who drove a van at a suspected shoplifter before falsely accusing his victim of stabbing him has been jailed for 22 months.

Stephen Johnson, 27, who was a guard at the Asda store on St Helens Road, Bolton, deliberately slashed himself and his clothes following his altercation with Steven Quinn, in a desperate bid to make his own injuries appear worse.

He had earlier chased Mr Quinn across the supermarket's car park and nearby roads, after the man stole a bottle of spirits from the shop on July 25, 2018, before then getting in his van and deliberately driving towards Mr Quinn and another man.

At Bolton Crown Court, Robert Hall, prosecuting, said: "This was clearly a road rage incident where the defendant drove at some speed, mounted the pavement, drove around a corner past an open shop and drove at these men.

"The space in which they were standing was confined by the front of the shop and roadside railings and it is fair to say that if they had not jumped out of the way over the railings they would have been run over."

Mr Quinn was left with bruising to his leg, but Johnson, of Harrogate Road, Stockport, told police officers he had been "slashed repeatedly" by one of the men during the initial chase when he had in fact scratched himself and damaged his own clothing.

A small bag of cannabis was also found in Johnson's vehicle.

Johnson, who was employed by Cardinal Security, told officers he was trying to take a picture of the men and maintained his story right up until a Newton hearing in February this year where it was ascertained he had been lying.

Ian Metcalfe, defending, said: "As far as the defendant's conduct on this particularly evening I would seek to clarify it as something of a complete meltdown where all clarity of thought and relativity became buried under an avalanche of highly emotional and profoundly stupid actions."

Mr Metcalfe added that Johnson, who pleaded guilty to attempted grievous bodily harm, attempting to pervert the course of justice, possessing cannabis and dangerous driving, had been under pressure at work and had been working extremely long hours, including a 24 hour shift on one day.

"He (Johnson) was ill suited for this role and was under the pressure of extremely long hours," said Mr Metcalfe. "He was dealing with habitués like Mr Quinn who had no interest in visiting the store as paying customers.

"I can't make sense of what he did, but neither victim was caused significant injury and neither man supported this prosecution," he added.

Sentencing Johnson, Judge Graeme Smith, said: "I've viewed the CCTV of what happened and it looks like a deliberate attempt to run down the shoplifters.

"You drove along the pavement at speed in an enclosed space and there was a significant risk to members of the public.

"It was established fairly quickly that your account didn't stand up but your persisted with the claim that you had been assaulted."

Judge Smith handed Johnson a jail sentence of 22 months and he was disqualified from driving for 23 months.