A MAN "headbutted" a police officer in the cells, a court has heard.

David Howe, of Front Street, Cockfield, near Bishop Auckland, admitted assaulting an emergency worker when he appeared at Durham Crown Court yesterday.

The 49-year-old had been arrested as part of dispute between himself and another man on October 17.

Howe assaulted the officer after he entered the cell to see if he would be interviewed.

The case was heard at crown court because Howe had elected to have a trial when he appeared, unrepresented at magistrates' court.

However, he pleaded guilty after speaking to a lawyer.

The court heard he had been in bed when the officer came into the cell. The defendant then stood on the bed, gesticulating, before coming at the officer and pushing his head against the other man's head, described as a "headbutt".

He then pushed the officer, who was left with a small injury to his lip.

Amrit Jandoo, mitigating, said: "This is set against a background of bad blood or bad feeling with another member of the community.

"It's a short incident which came about through built-up frustration. He knows he should not have acted in this way but he felt the officer was taking sides. He knows he was wrong to assume that."

The court heard he had lost his job this year and was suffering from mental health problems as a result, as well as having to deal with the ill health of his daughters.

He was given a 12-month community order and will be subject to a three-month curfew between 10pm and 7am.