A POLICE officer put a knife to a friend's neck at a flat in Dorchester and threatened to cut his throat, a jury heard.

Detective Constable Peter Lawrence was annoyed with Simon Slade for making offensive racist and religious remarks, a court heard.

Events came to a head after a boozy night out in Dorchester on March 3 last year.

Lawrence, 42, who has been with Dorset Police for 17 years and is married with two children, has pleaded not guilty to assaulting Mr Slade causing him actual bodily harm. He claimed it was a joke that went wrong and he didn't mean to cause injuries.

In a trial at Gloucester Crown Court, prosecutor Nick Fridd said Lawrence had been out drinking with Mr Slade, Stuart Hole and Sarah-Jane Massey. Mr Slade got 'very drunk' and when they returned to Mr Hole's flat, Mr Slade was making offensive comments.

He was told to leave and when he made his way out, Lawrence followed him arming himself with a kitchen knife, the jury heard.

“Outside the door he pinned Mr Slade against the wall and held the knife to his throat, saying 'Talk to me like that again and I will put this knife through your neck,' Mr Fridd said.

Mr Slade suffered a slight facial injury and a cut between his fingers needing five stitches as he tried to push the knife away. He hit and kicked out at Lawrence, Mr Fridd said.

Police were called later and arrested Lawrence.

Giving evidence, Mr Slade agreed he had been drunk but did not accept he had made offensive comments. He said he was shocked when Lawrence put the knife to his neck and told him 'Say that again and I will cut your throat out.'

Mr Slade said: “I thought he must be joking and then realise he wasn't.”

He said he and Lawrence fell through the door as he struck out, and that Mr Hole took the knife.

In cross-examination, Mr Slade agreed that on his Facebook page he is described as liking 'drinking, shouting, pulling faces and verbal abuse', and there are comments praising Hitler.

He said he had not written these but he had not removed them.

Giving evidence, Mr Hole said Lawrence and Mr Slade were both 'joking and mucking around in the kitchen' and he believed Lawrence had the knife in his hand.

Then he said there were cries for help from Mr Slade.

Lawrence said his aim was merely to embarrass Mr Slade by telling him that he had Jewish heritage and had lost relatives in the Holocaust.

He would have waited for an apology and then said he was joking, he said.

“As a police officer I had found his behaviour that night totally unacceptable and offensive,” he said.

He admitted getting hold of Mr Slade by his shirt and holding the knife out over his shoulder.

Mr Fridd asked him: “What on earth were you thinking about?”

Mr Lawrence replied: “Looking back at it now I don't know. But at the time I thought it would be funny. It was just part of a practical joke.”

The jury heard character references for Lawrence describing him as a cool and calm officer who did not lose his temper in difficult policing situations.

The trial continues.