A VIOLENT criminal who stabbed a man in the eye and neck in a random pub attack in Leith has been jailed for eight years.
Gary Welch was found guilty of the attempted murder of father-of-three Bryan McCabe following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.
The judge, Lord Jones, sentenced the 25-year-old thug to eight years in prison and a further four years of supervision upon release.
Lord Jones had ordered a background report be prepared on Welch, who has served previous jail terms for serious assault and robbery, before sentencing him at the High Court in Aberdeen yesterday.
Welch was on bail over another violent crime when he launched the vicious assault at Jo’s Bar on Leith Walk.
Mr McCabe, 42, was ordering a pint at the bar when he was stabbed, later telling the jury how blood “poured” from his wounds.
He said: “I thought I was dead. I thought I was a goner.”
Mr McCabe told the court that he was at the pub for a darts match on August 6 last year when Welch carried out the unprovoked knife attack “out of the blue”.
Councillor Nick Gardner, who represents the Leith Walk ward, said today: “This was an appalling, horrific and unprovoked attack and I’m pleased that the perpetrator has been successfully prosecuted and that a strong punishment has been carried out.
“I hope it will send a clear signal that such behaviour will not be tolerated and will be strongly punished.
“I wish Mr McCabe and his family well for the future.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “It is entirely regrettable that this incident happened when the culprit was out on bail, and this kind of example lessens people’s faith in the justice system.
“And while eight years may sound like a lengthy sentence, it is anything but when the SNP’s automatic early release is considered.
“Unfortunately, the victim will not be able to rest easy knowing that Welch could be out in half that time, and this is why the public thinks Scotland’s justice system does not stick up for those who need it most.”
While giving evidence, care assistant Mr McCabe relived the attack which almost blinded him.
He told the court: “The next thing I knew I have been stabbed right down in the neck.
“At that moment in time I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel any pain.
“It wasn’t until I turned round to the door and saw the offender standing there with the knife. Then the blood just poured.
“I passed out as well. Apparently I was unconscious for about 20 minutes or so.”
Mr McCabe said that after the assault he was taken to hospital. He was transferred from Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to St John’s Hospital, Livingston, after suffering “significant” injuries to the side of his jaw and an eye.
An eye specialist told the court he required surgery to repair injury to the lids of an eye and had some damage to the way the eye moved.
Welch, described as a prisoner, had denied carrying out the attack on Mr McCabe, but a jury found him guilty by a majority verdict of attempting to murder Mr McCabe by assaulting him to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of his life by repeatedly striking him on the head and neck with a knife.
Welch was granted bail at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on July 4, just weeks before the assault on Mr McCabe.