A WIGAN business owner who “slapped” an environment officer did so because the inspector had posed a safety risk, a court heard.
Nigel Harold Isherwood was attempting to smother smouldering waste using a 60-tonne excavator in April this year when officers approached the vehicle.
The 50-year-old, who pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault, was “agitated” that the officers appeared to have ignored safety warnings and so launched a flurry of abuse before striking once with an “open-hand”.
Isherwood, the company director at Isherwood Skip and Container Hire, received a two-year conditional discharge.
A hearing at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court this week was told that fire crews had been called to the firm’s Cemetery Road site at Ince because of concerns the smouldering waste could spread to other highly flammable material deposited nearby.
Sean Joyce, defending, said: “(Mr Isherwood) had agreed with the fire service to pick up soil and drop it on top of the fire to put it out.
“There was a significant amount of smoke but the fire service were happy for him to do that and left him to it.
“At that point he gets a message (on a walkie-talkie) from the other side of the yard saying there are two men that need to speak to him.
“He says ‘please tell them they need to stay at the other end of the yard and he will come and speak to them.’
“But they approached the excavator.
“The equipment was swinging 360 degrees with visibility affected due to the smoke and he was agitated about the safety of those individuals.
“He accepts that he approached them and told them what he thought in robust terms and used strong language and he planned to physically remove them from the site.
“It was then that he struck one with the flat of his hand.
“He was in a distressed state.”
Mr Joyce added: “It was not a serious injury, it was a slap or push to the chest.”
The court was told that Isherwood had initially pleaded not guilty but had changed his plea at a previous hearing.
Police officers had said that the matter could be dealt with an apology to the officer, which Isherwood was happy to comply with, but that option was retracted days after.
The 50-year-old, speaking from the dock, said: “They should not have come out, simple as.
“They had hi-vis jackets but it was full of smoke. I was calling them effing idiots, I accept that.
“I hold my hands up but they were bloody idiots.
“They could have had their heads taken off: they shouldn’t have come anywhere near.”
Sentencing Isherwood to the conditional discharge, the presiding magistrate said: “We do take it very seriously when any public officers are assaulted in the course of their duty.
“A sensible person would not have pushed someone in this way, although we have given you some credit for your guilty plea.”
Isherwood was ordered to pay a £150 contribution to prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £15.