A MASKED man found spraying offensive graffiti on to Darlington’s Police Station was armed with a five-inch kitchen knife – and attempted to gouge at a police officer’s eyes with his thumbs when he was about to be caught.

Declan Drummond, 19, of no fixed address, donned a mask and, brandishing a can of spray paint, daubed the same message across the town – including on Wickes DIY store’s roller shutters, two Arriva buses and even the police station.

Police have condemned his actions as an attempt to "bully and intimidate people in not providing information to the police".

Drummond pleaded guilty to four counts of criminal damage, one charge of being in possession of a knife and one charge of assaulting a police officer when he appeared before magistrates in Newton Aycliffe yesterday.

The message was in connection with a stabbing allegation which was later dropped, the court heard. It was sprayed on buildings across the town but Drummond was only evidentially linked with four cases of the vandalism.

Lorna Rimell, prosecuting, said: “Just before 3pm on November 6 last year, the defendant was seen wearing a white mask, and he approached the rear of an Arriva bus on Haughton Road, and sprayed [the message].”

She said he did the same to another Arriva bus a day later "over a large area of the bus".

On November 7, shortly after the second bus was sprayed, a witness saw him spraying the roller shutters on the Wickes store, just off Haughton Road.

Ms Rimell said: “About an hour after that Detective Constable Robertson finished work in the police station in Darlington. He saw the defendant cycling towards the police station and spray paint the same words on the wall.”

Despite the officer’s attempts to grab hold of Drummond, he managed to escape the grip and cycled off before hiding in a nearby block of flats.

“When the defendant sees the officer he rushes to him, punches him three times to his head and attempts to force his fingers and thumbs into the officer’s eyes,” said Ms Rimell.

The officer found a white mask nearby and a five-inch kitchen knife with Drummond’s fingerprints on it.

In his victim impact statement, DC Robertson said the graffiti was linked to a stabbing incident and he felt fortunate that attempting to catch Drummond, especially if he had a knife, had not resulted in a worse outcome.

Ben Pegman, mitigating on behalf of Drummond, said: “The knife wasn’t brandished at any point.

“Mr Drummond, at the time of these offences, was 18.

“The offences are nasty, particularly the offence on DC Robertson.

“There is a background where Mr Drummond had been accused by police in respect of a serious matter.

“The matter was subsequently dropped but there were onerous bail conditions and he took exception to that.”

Magistrates imposed a 24-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered Drummond to pay £100 compensation to PC Robertson, £29 to Wickes and £100 to Darlington Police Station.

After the case had concluded, PC Robertson said: “Criminal damage of this sort is a blight on the appearance of Darlington that affects the whole population of the town. The content of this graffiti is a clear attempt to bully and intimidate people into not providing information to the police. People of this town should be able to feel confident to assist the police with bringing offenders to justice and know that our officers will work hard, doing their utmost to bring a prosecution where the evidence allows.”