A MENTALLY-ILL man spat at a driver and police officers before throwing his lunch at a cell CCTV camera.

Swindon magistrates heard Alexander MacDonald was upset and had been drinking when he stood in Tewkesbury Way, west Swindon, at around midday on Sunday, March 10.

The 30-year-old had become distressed after reading hurtful social media posts linking him with an allegation of a sexual offence. Those allegations, which had previously seen MacDonald interviewed by police, were false.

He had not slept the night before, had been drinking and could not remember exactly what he had done during the day.

Prosecutor Keith Ballinger said MacDonald had been remonstrating with drivers along Tewkesbury Way when one man got out of his vehicle and approached him.

MacDonald turned towards the man, saying “it’s you I want”.

As he turned around to look at the defendant, MacDonald spat at him, with the spittle hitting the man in the face. In self-defence, the man then threw a punch at bearded MacDonald.

Police were called and MacDonald was restrained with handcuffs and leg restraints.

As officers were trying to load him into the back of the van, the man spat towards one constable and kicked at another.

In custody, MacDonald threw his dinner towards a CCTV camera in his cell, damaging the equipment.

Swindon magistrates heard MacDonald had admitted two previous assault charges, brought after he spat at a custody sergeant and another police constable.

Defending, Philip Hall said his client had become distressed after reading social media posts about himself. “Part and parcel of his way of dealing with that pressure is to drink alcohol,” Mr Hall added.

On Sunday, he had been a “complete pain in the collective backside of the police force”. However, when he was himself again he recognised his behaviour was wrong.

MacDonald, of Marney Road, Grange Park, did not want to be back before the court - instead hoping for mental health support.

Addressing the criminal damage matter, Mr Hall joked: “We hear there’s too much cookery on the television. He seemed to have taken that literally and placed his dinner on it.”

Magistrates sentenced MacDonald to a 12-month community order, with 20 rehabilitation days. He must complete a six month alcohol treatment programme and mental health programme.