A NIGHT out drinking ended with a sobering night in the cells for a man who mistook a female police officer for a stripper.
Paul Harbord had been drinking all day when he made the mix-up in the Black Bull, in Old Shotton.
Peterlee magistrates heard the 27-year-old rigger was part of a large group dressed up and looking forward to some “entertainment” booked for later that evening.
At 9.30pm a female police officer arrived at the pub, following concerns that the group was “rowdy”.
Vicky Wilson, prosecuting, said: “Harbord shouted ‘look, here is one of the strippers’ as he flicked a bar towel in the officer’s face.”
Harbord, of Barnard Wynd, Peterlee, was arrested after the incident, on December 29, and pleaded guilty to obstructing a police officer.
Jaxon Taylor, mitigating, said: “The defendant and a large group of friends were celebrating together.
“Some were dressed in pyjamas, some in Christmas jumpers.
“They consumed a quantity of alcohol throughout the day. A number of the party became rowdy.
“One of the defendant’s friends had suggested some entertainment had been booked for later.
“When a lone female police officer attended, someone shouted ‘here come the strippers’ but it wasn’t my client.
“He waved a beer towel from the bar in her face. He honestly didn’t believe it was a police officer until he was taken to Peterlee police station.
“He was quite embarrassed by the whole situation.
“His friends have had a good laugh at him but he realises how serious it is. It was an honest and genuine mistake.”
Harbord was given a six-month conditional discharge and told to pay £85 and a £15 victim surcharge.
Chairman of the bench David Carr said: “We have listened to this unfortunate affair. I have no doubt people around you were goading you and laughing but it is a serious offence to obstruct a police officer.”