A THUG who headbutted an off-duty policeman after mistakenly thinking he was a paedophile was spared jail after being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.
Michael Smith, 30, was staring down the barrel facing prison for a series of violent attacks before he was saved at the last minute following the diagnosis of his medical condition.
Smith appeared at Portsmouth Crown Court after he lashed out when an off-duty officer knocked on his Worthing Avenue door in Gosport late one evening in July.
The court heard how Smith ‘misunderstood’ who it was before brandishing a baseball bat threateningly at the officer – sparking a scuffle where the defendant landed a vicious headbutt.
Defending, Thomas Flavin, told the court Smith thought he was protecting himself. He said: ‘It was all a big misunderstanding. Mr Smith thought he was being threatened which is why he got the baseball bat and ended up headbutting the off-duty officer.
‘The off-duty officer knocked on his door and the defendant thought it was a paedophile after there had been reports there was one in the area.
‘Mr Smith went to get his baseball bat before there was a struggle with the officer grabbing hold of the bat to take it off him which led to Mr Smith then headbutting him.’
The incident meant Smith was in breach of a four month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, that he received in July last year for theft and battery following a road rage episode. Smith became annoyed after mistakenly thinking a motorist tapping his hand on top of his car was insulting him.
‘Mr Smith thought he was being abused and went over and punched the man through his window. He then grabbed his keys and threw them away,’ Mr Flavin said.
‘It was a gross overreaction and misunderstanding.’
Smith, admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm and possession of an offensive weapon, as well as breaching his suspended sentence, was saved though after his recent diagnosis of bi-polar disorder.
Judge Robert Hill said: ‘The reality you are now being treated for bi-polar disorder gives me some reassurance and allows me to treat this case differently.
‘I will defer sentence for six months and if you are not violent in that time then you will not go to prison. If you blow the chance then the result will be very different.’
Smith will now appear at court in Newport, Isle of Wight, on March 1. He was granted unconditional bail.