A REVELLER found himself sobering up in a cell after drunkenly mistaking a female police officer for a stripper, a court has been told.

Paul Harbord had been drinking all day when he made the mistake and flicked a towel at the officer in the Black Bull, in Old Shotton, near Peterlee, on December 29.

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.

A female police officer arrived at the pub, following concerns that the group was getting “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, who was arrested after the incident, 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 £100 in costs and 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.”