PATIENTS including children fled a hospital A&E department after a man in police custody slipped his handcuffs and headbutted and bit an officer.

John Thompson, 41, repeatedly shouted and swore and made threats of violence in the presence of youngsters and others after being taken to Inverclyde Royal.

He is now beginning an eight-month prison sentence after a sheriff described his behaviour as a 'terrible course of conduct'.

Thompson bizarrely claimed in court that he hadn't bitten the officer because he has false teeth.

Sheriff Andrew McIntyre said: "A person with false teeth, by logic, can still bite — as they would an apple."

Two PCs were attempting to remove Thompson from the public waiting area when he slipped his right hand out of the handcuffs.

Prosecutor Lindy Scaife told Greenock Sheriff Court: "The accused headbutted one officer to his right cheekbone.

"Both officers then attempted to regain control of him and the accused swore in stating, 'I heidbutted you and I'll do it again'.

"He was placed in the prone position, however, he continued to resist.

"He threatened to bite and spit on police.

"Many people who were in the reception/waiting area left.

"The accused was brought under control, however, he bit the officer to the back of his right ankle but did not break the skin."

Thompson, of Belville Street, had been arrested on a matter no longer before the court at around 4.30pm on August 19.

The injured officer had bruising around his right eye and a bite mark on his ankle.

Fiscal depute Ms Scaife said: "The waiting area was busy with numerous young children.

"The accused attempted to engage with members of the public and he was using offensive language."

Sheriff McIntyre sentenced Thompson to eight months imprisonment, telling him: "Doctors, nurses and patients don't need to be exposed to this behaviour and you have a history of offending against emergency workers."