A DISTRESSED man who attempted to push a firefighter off his ladder when he tried to help him off a roof has been jailed.

Wayne Denton had taken refuge on the roof of The Range store in Darlington after being chased by a gang of youths.

However, when firefighters attempted to help the 'paranoid' defendant get off the roof he lashed out at the ladder, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said: "He took hold of the ladder with both hands and tried to push it away from the wall. It did leave the wall but got caught on some security wire around the wall, so it didn't fall backwards.

"Other officers had to stop the ladder falling by steading it. Fortunately there were no injuries."

Mr Sabiston said the incident was caught on CCTV and Denton could be seen acting in 'boorish manner'.

In a victim impact statement, the firefighter said: "I have been left shaken from the incident – falling from that height would have caused me injury.

"My family worry about me in my role as a firefighter and these incidents do nothing to alleviate their fears."

Denton, of Aldred Place, Newton Aycliffe, pleaded guilty to a single charge of assault on an emergency worker.

Amrit Jandoo, in mitigation, said his client had tried to get help with his mental health on the day of the incident on November 25 last year.

He added: "He has no explanation why he behaved in such a way. He felt that they were trying to bring him down for other reasons. He was paranoid and suspicious of the fire service and hadn't appreciated that they were actually there to help him."

Judge Recorder Mark McKone jailed Denton for eight months, saying: "The ladder came away from the wall but mercifully other officers managed to steady the ladder and the firefighter was not physically injured.

"This must have been terrifying for him, he was left shaken and this just the sort of thing which makes his family worry is brave man goes to work.

"You're lucky not to be charged with a very serious crime indeed."