A THUG punched a police officer in the head as he lay on the ground during the height of the coronavirus lockdown.

Lawrence Hughes had seen shouting and banging on the doors at a block of flats in North Place, Brighton.

He was intoxicated on drugs and alcohol in the early hours of the morning, and PC Alexander Ferguson arrived to find a window smashed.

The officer suspected Hughes had caused the damage, and found him snoozing on a balcony overlooking the laundry room in the flats.

When the officer tried to tell him “wakey wakey” he was told to “f*** off”.

The Argus:

Body camera footage showed Hughes, 29, being roused from his sleep and turning aggressive and violent.

As PC Ferguson tried to arrest him on suspicion of criminal damage, he felled the officer by kicking his legs.

“Spiteful” Hughes rained down a volley of blows to PC Ferguson’s head and chest, then snatched the officer’s radio and threw it away to stop him calling for help.

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Footage then showed PC Ferguson joining the chase, and Hughes was arrested by colleagues nearby.

At Hove Crown Court Hughes was jailed for eight months for the attack, and a further four months was added for driving while banned in Hove last year.

Kyle Fournillier, prosecuting, said the attack happened during the height of the coronavirus lockdown on April 4 this year.

Mr Fournillier said: “The officer attempted to get the defendant under control.

“But the defendant kicked him to the ground.

The Argus:

“He punched the officer, aiming for the chest and head as the officer tried to defend himself from the attack.

“Throwing the officer’s radio away so he could not call for help was a calculated and spiteful act.”

Mr Fournillier said Hughes, 29, of Southover Street, Brighton, has 36 previous convictions for 80 offences.

They include robbery, drugs, assault, and resisting arrest.

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The prosecutor also said Hughes was stopped in a Ford Mondeo is Goldsmid Road, Hove, where the car had a “strong smell of cannabis”.

Hughes gave a positive roadside test for both cocaine and cannabis.

Hannah Hurley, defending, said Hughes was recently shocked to see footage of himself high on spice, which is a potent form of synthetic cannabis.

She said Hughes had been on a “binge” of drugs and alcohol.

But she added he has made efforts to beat his demons and get mental health treatment for childhood traumas he had suffered.

But Judge Mark Van Der Zwart said prison was justified.

The Argus:

He added: “I accept you have shown genuine remorse.

“You may well have been disorientated, but you were abusive to the officer and uncooperative.

“Then you kicked the officer to the ground, punched him to the chest and head, and clawed at his face before throwing away his police radio.

“Police officers play a vital role in maintaining law and order.

“Being assaulted and abused is not part and parcel of their job.

“Anyone who attacks police should understand these offences will be met with custodial sentences.”