A thug who beat an of-duty police officer unconscious for trying to detain a supermarket shoplifter has been put behind bars.
Dylan Barnes, 36, who has five previous convictions for attacks on police, punched the officer to the ground and caused cuts to his head during the shocking attack at Morrisons in Sunderland in September.
The sickening assault, which was witnessed by horrified shoppers, left the victim, who had just finished a 12-hour shift, needing stitches to cuts above his eyes and still unable to return to work three months later.
As a result of Barnes' unwanted intervention, the shoplifter managed to escape.
At the time of the attack Barnes, who has 215 previous convictions, was on suspended sentences for 11 shop thefts, three driving offences, two for handling stolen goods and one for having a bladed article.
Newcastle Crown Court heard staff at the busy store had detained a female shoplifter and the off-duty officer, who was still wearing his uniform under a jumper, stepped in to help.
Barnes, who was drunk, heard the woman say that she was pregnant and bleeding so decided to get involved, despite the officer having the situation under control.
Judge Amanda Rippon told him: "The officer said to you he was a police officer and he was detaining a shoplifter, staff told you the same thing.
"You are a shoplifter, you have shoplifted for many years, and you were drunk. I do not know why you decided to involve yourself.
"It was perfectly obvious, and would have been to you were you not drunk, it was a contained situation and the woman was perfectly lawfully detained.
"You chose to try to force yourself between the woman and the officer.
"When you did, she managed to escape, she pushed her way out."
The court heard it was when the officer put his hand on Barnes' shoulder he was attacked and punched unconscious.
The judge added: "It was a repeated and sustained assault by you on a police officer engaged in his lawful public duty."
Judge Rippon sentenced Barnes to 25 months behind bars.
The judge said she accepted Barnes was now sorry for what he did.
The court heard Barnes had abided by the conditions of his last suspended sentence order but was still grieving the death of his mother and had restarted taking drugs.
Barnes, of Ravensworth Street, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to assault.