A MAN from Greenock who stabbed his friend following an argument has been 'leniently' jailed for three years.

Alexander McQuillan had been freed early from a previous prison term when he went on to carry out the knife attack at the corner of Wellington Street and Ann Street.

He was originally accused of attempted murder, with this charge later downgraded.

Judge Lord Turnbull told McQuillan, 20: "You pled guilty to a very serious offence involving stabbing a friend on the head and body.

"The offence was originally charged as an attempt to murder and it may be you were fortunate that aggravation was reduced at the end of the day by the plea accepted by the Crown.

"It is very concerning that you committed that offence while released early from your previous sentence and it is also very concerning that you have a previous conviction involving possession of a knife and other convictions involving possession of other weapons."

The judge said he'd given serious consideration to imposing a lengthy period of imprisonment but added there were other factors he could take into account.

Lord Turnbull pointed out that McQuillan's previous convictions were committed when he was 16 or 17 and the latest offence happened when he was 19.

The judge said there were also indications in a background report on McQuillan that he may be approaching 'a period of maturity' and that his interest in the welfare of his unborn child was encouraging.

But Lord Turnbull warned him that if he offended again in a similar way then 'it seems to me the likelihood is you will spend an inordinate amount of time of your young life in custody'.

The judge told him: "I hope you appreciate a significant degree of leniency has been allowed in this case."

McQuillan admitted repeatedly striking his victim on the head and body with a knife to his severe injury and permanent disfigurement on June 10 last year.

He was seen by witnesses to be brandishing a large, bladed weapon.

His victim, 25, had told him: "Put that away and fight like a man."

McQuillan approached him and struck him on the head then stabbed him in the stomach with the weapon.

He ran off in and out of gardens and through closes after the attack and two women went to help his victim after he collapsed.

Police found the man lying on the ground bleeding heavily from wounds to his stomach and head.

He arrived at IRH having lost a lot blood and underwent emergency surgery.

In addition to his jail term, McQuillan has been made the subject of an additional year-long supervised release order.