A DRIVER stopped by police tried to push one of the officers into the path of passing traffic, a court heard.

Police were alerted after Stephen Atkins threatened staff at a New Forest pub and a nearby hotel before driving off in the direction of the M27.

He was stopped by three police cars on a dual carriageway amid fears he would cause a fatal accident if he reached the motorway.

Rachel Standish, prosecuting, told Southampton magistrates that the drama began at the Three Bells pub in Hordle, where the landlady decided to stop serving Atkins because she was concerned about his behaviour.

She added: “The defendant was rude boisterous and argumentative. He was also aggressive and started waving his arms around.”

At one point Atkins told the landlady: “I’m going to smash your face in.”

Ms Standish said: “The threat was delivered in a calm manner, which made it all the more unnerving. She believed he was capable of carrying it out and feared for her safety.”

The defendant then left the pub and drove to the nearby Premier Inn but was informed no rooms were available.

He told staff member Alexandru Floca: “If you don’t give me a room, I’m going to kill you.”

After driving away he was stopped by police but was aggressive towards the officers and sped off in the direction of Cadnam, the court heard.

Ms Standish said: “The officers were able to follow at a distance.

“The fear was he would get on to the motorway and cause a fatal accident.”

Atkins was eventually stopped on a dual carriageway leading to junction 1 of the M27.

“The defendant struck one of the officers on the arm before grabbing his body armour and trying to push him into the ‘live’ lane.”

Sarah Barnard, mitigating, said Atkins suffered from mental health problems but stressed that his condition had been stabilised.

She added: “The defendant was stopped by at least three police cars. People were driving past at the time - in fact I was one of them.”

Ms Barnard described her client’s behaviour on the day as “scary” adding: “He does have empathy with the people who were upset by his behaviour.”

Atkins, 55, of Sycamore Close, Milford on Sea, pleaded guilty to drug-driving, assaulting a police officer, failing to stop, two counts of threatening behaviour and one of assault.

The last charge related to an incident at the Three Bells which did not involve the landlady.

He was handed a 12-month community order, banned from driving for 12 months, fined £100 and told to pay compensation totalling £335 to his victims.