AN OFF-DUTY police officer was set upon by two thugs after going to the aid of a taxi driver.

Christopher Smith was hit over the head with a metal bar, knocking him to the ground and then Liam Sandham and Kyle Wilcock, who had armed themselves with the bar and hand saw, kicked and stamped on the officer.

Fortunately the officer suffered only minor injuries and at Bolton Crown Court 24-year-old Wilcock was jailed for 24 months while Sandham, aged 25 received a 20 month prison sentence. They had both pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm.

Nicoletta Amatino, prosecuting, told the court that Mr Smith and his wife had been out for the evening and had walked through Leverhulme Park and onto Garstang Avenue, Breightmet, in the early hours of December 16 last year when they spotted two men who were arguing with a taxi driver.

“They were behaving in an aggressive way,” said Miss Amatino. “Mr Smith was concerned for the driver and so intervened.”

The taxi driver drove off and the aggressors turned their attention to Mr Smith, who revealed to them that he was a police officer.

“This seemed to increase their aggression toward him,” said Miss Amatino, who added that Wilcock went into a nearby house and came out with a dumbbell bar and handsaw which he swung around his head and repeatedly verbally abused Mr Smith.

The officer was hit on the head from behind, knocking him to the ground then the attackers stamped on and kicked him before running back into a house.

Mr Smith’s wife phone for help and police arrested Wilcock, of Garstang Avenue and Sandham, of no fixed address.

Mr Smith suffered a minor cut to his head but in a victim impact statement Miss Amatino said Mr Smith was “greatly concerned by their total disregard when they learned he was a police officer.”

Wilcock and Sandham both had lengthy criminal records, mainly for offences of dishonesty and, at the time of the assault on Mr Smith, Wilcock was subject to a suspended prison sentence for throwing tiles off a house roof.

Nicholas Ross, defending Wilcock, said he has been diagnosed with ADHD and has problems with alcohol and drugs.

He added that Wilcock had been drinking when he carried out the attack.

“He accepts that he massively overstepped the mark,” said Mr Ross,

Kimberley Morton, for Sandham, said he is becoming institutionalised and also has problems with alcohol.

“He recognises he is going to have to grow up and deal with these issues,” she said.

Sentencing the defendants, Judge Richard Gioserano said they had behaved in an “appalling way.

“It is fortunate indeed that he was not more seriously injured.” he added.