Burnley mechanic had attempted to walk home down the M65 motorway

Burnley Magistrates' Court
Burnley Magistrates' Court

A mechanic with learning difficulties lashed out at a police officer who went to stop him walking down the middle of the motorway, a court heard.


Drunk Samuel Duerden had refused to let the police give him a lift home from hospital, where he had received late-night treatment for a head wound. He hit the officer in the neck after he set off towards the motorway and she put out her arm to stop him.

The 22-year-old had landed in trouble on the night of his work's Christmas party at which, the court was told, he was said to have been attacked by a manager and a colleague had spiked his drinks.

Police had been called to outside The Lounge Bar in Barrowford at about 11pm and had tried to get Duerden, who was shouting and kicking out, to calm down. The defendant, who was bleeding from his injury, was eventually handcuffed and police took him to hospital for treatment.

Mrs Alex Mann (prosecuting) said at the hospital Duerden was given an injection and calmed down sufficiently for the handcuffs to be removed.

"He said he was going to walk home down the motorway. Police clearly couldn't allow that to happen. Apart from the fact it's not permitted by law, it would have caused him some risk of harm. He said he was going to walk down the middle of the motorway and started to walk in that direction.

"The officer ran after him and put her arm out in front of him to stop him. He lashed out, hitting her on the side of the neck."

Mr Philip Turner (defending) said Duerden subsequently learned his drinks were spiked and someone, apparently, had admitted doing it. That person had been dismissed from the firm.

The defendant had been assaulted by a manager, who he felt had been picking on him. He landed on the floor and suffered injury.

The solicitor continued: "He had been poorly treated by his colleagues, who ought to have known better. He is a soft target and is deserving of better protection than he was given that night."

The solicitor said Duerden attempted to make a complaint against the person who caused his facial injuries, but no complaint was ever taken seriously and he once waited three hours at the police station waiting to be seen.

A police sergeant, who later called to say Duerden was being prosecuted for police assault, was told about his learning difficulties and said he would be contacted to get him to come to the police station.

Mr Turner added: "That phone call was never made and five months later, out of the blue, he gets a summons to attend court, when he thought everything had been resolved."

Duerden, of Smith Street, Nelson, admitted police assault at Blackburn, last December 22nd and using threatening or abusive words or behaviour, likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress, last December 21st. He had no previous convictions.

The defendant was given a 12-ninth conditional discharge and was told to pay £100 compensation.