A THIEF attacked a police officer, spitting in her face as she tried to help him as he was being treated in hospital.

Bolton Crown Court heard how prolific criminal Christopher Holden was arrested by officers who found him and another man inside a house in Birch Road, Leigh, at 9pm on March 3.

“One of the double-glazed windows had been completely smashed,” said Brett Wilson, prosecuting.

The officers could hear the men inside and asked them to come downstairs.

Holden obeyed but claimed the home owners, who were not at the property, owed him money for drugs.

Holden, who had a screwdriver in his pocket was arrested and taken to Wigan police station but, as he was staggering and unable to walk unaided, police took him to Wigan Infirmary just before 11pm.

The court heard that he was accompanied by PC Katie Sutton while he was treated by doctors for the effects of drugs in his system.

After his treatment 34-year-old Holden became more alert, but then medics wanted to take a blood sample from his arm.

“To her credit the officer was trying to assist Mr Holden by holding his arm to stop him spasming while a needle went in and she was trying to be reassuring,” said Mr Wilson.

“Suddenly he lifts off his bed, draws phlegm from his throat and spits towards her. It lands on the side of her face.”

Holden spat at her again but it landed on the floot.

“He then calms down and falls asleep,” said Mr Wilson.

Holden, of Siddow Common, Leigh, pleaded guilty to burglary and assaulting a police officer and the court heard that he already has 43 convictions for offences including drugs and previous burglaries.

Geoffrey Lowe, defending, said: “He is very regretful about what happened and realises the officer should not have been exposed to that.”

Judge Timothy Stead sentenced Holden to a total of 1,056 days in prison.

Commenting on the assault on the police officer, the judge told him: “In the circumstances, it was one of the worst kinds of assault I can think of, in its nature. Whilst this country is in the grip of an endemic crisis and in a hospital, you spat on the face of a police officer."