A DRUNK clubber headbutted a police officer after wandering up to say he was wanted on warrant.

Lee Clarke, 30, of Cuckoo’s Walk in Trowbridge was already under investigation for two separate incidents of drunken violence committed months before he lashed out at constables in Chippenham town centre in January.

But despite admitting two counts of ABH, possession of a weapon, theft and assaulting emergency workers, Clarke was spared an immediate spell behind bars.

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Swindon Crown Court

Prosecutor Chris Smyth told Swindon Crown Court on Friday that Clarke’s first victim had been in bed at a supported housing block in Melksham late one snowy night in February last year.

The man had heard shouts coming from outside and went out into the cold to ask them to move along. Clarke replied: “What the f***’s it got to do with you?” The victim pointed out he was only asking the men to move on, prompting Clarke to walk up to him shouting: “I’ll kill you, I’ll end you.” He was said to have been frothing at the mouth.

Mr Smyth said Clarke tried to headbutt the man, causing him to lose his balance. The victim was punched several times.

He was taken to the Royal United Hospital, Bath, where doctors found he had a broken eye socket and splits in both lips. In a victim statement read to the court, the man said: “Every time I look in the mirror I’m reminded of it all over again. I’ve been having nightmares about it.”

Two months later, in the early hours of April 21, Clarke got into an argument with a group of three men in the Parson’s Nose pub, Melksham, after taking one of the men’s drink.

Later that evening, after the friends had gone their separate ways, Clarke confronted one member of the group as he walked home. He got close to the man, puffing out his chest and flexing his arms before getting his victim in a headlock and throwing him to the floor.

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The Parson's Nose, Melksham Picture: GOOGLE

He picked up his victim’s phone, which had fallen to the floor, and hung up a three-way call the man was on with his drinking pals.

Realising their friend was in trouble, the two other men raced to help. They tracked Clarke down by ringing the phone.

Clarke emerged from a house and – despite the phone being in his hand – claimed he did not have the mobile. He shouted “lads, lads” as if he was calling others to come to his aid. No help arrived and he threw the phone at the men then ran back to the house.

He returned from the property with what appeared to be a kitchen knife and waved it around, telling them: “I’m going to stab you. I’ve been to prison before, I’m not afraid of going back there.” Mr Smyth said Clarke caught one of the men on the thigh, leaving him with a small cut – although he was not charged with that alleged assault or possession of the knife.

Clarke went back into the house and returned with a ring spanner. He chased one of the members of the group through a private garden, brandishing the tool and shouting: “I’m going to smash your face in.”

The man was attacked but managed to knock the spanner to the floor along with his own phone.

Interviewed by police, Clarke gave a prepared statement in which he denied stealing a phone and claimed he’d been attacked by the group.

The final incident took place on January 25, 2020. Police had been called to reports of a fight outside the E11evn nightclub in Chippenham. A heavily intoxicated Clarke was asked to move on by police. He walked back to the officers and told them he was wanted on warrant. They handcuffed him as they checked with the police national database.

Mr Smyth said Clarke lunged at the nearest officer, a PC Alvis, with his head – but only managed to make contact with the tall constable’s shoulder. Clarke kept shouting and swearing as they waited for a custody van. He became so disorderly that they had to take him to the floor. As they did that, Clarke kicked one of the officers in the face. Even after the police officers put leg restraints on him, he kept trying to headbutt the PCs.

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E11evn nightclub, Chippenham Picture: GOOGLE

“It was, in fact, later that day the defendant was due to appear before the magistrates in relation to the assault in February,” the prosecutor said.

Clarke, of Cuckoo’s Walk, Trowbridge, pleaded guilty to two counts of assault causing actual bodily harm, possession of an offensive weapon, theft and three charges of assaulting an emergency worker.

Defending, Rob Ross said his client had had a problem with alcohol. However, he suggested his client’s “ruck” with police in January had led to an epiphany. He was now working hard to sort out the problems in his life.

He was a skilled roofer and highly valued by his employers. He helped support his partner, her children and his own children from a previous relationship. “He earns a good wage now and he takes his responsibilities very, very seriously.”

Recognising the efforts Clarke had made to rehabilitate himself, Recorder Anna Midgley imposed an 18 month sentence suspended for two years. Clarke must complete a four month curfew, the thinking skills programme and up to 10 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

The judge said: “Part of my public duty is to protect the public from further offending by you, so I have to consider what is the most effective way to bring that about.”

She added: “You are getting older, you have more responsibilities. Hopefully, your brain is developing and you realise that this is the point at which you can either turn your life around or bounce to and from prison for the rest of your life.”