A VIOLENT thug who battered a man with a hammer during a brutal street fight has been jailed for more than three years.

Gary Bradley masked his face and jumped out of a car with the weapon before raining down multiple blows on a former friend in broad daylight.

Bradley, 33, was close to death after the vicious clash on Greenock's Murdieston and Wellington streets because his target stabbed him in the neck with a screwdriver.

But a sheriff decided that the only way to dispose of the case — which was prosecuted as a breach of the peace — was to impose a lengthy jail term.

Lawman Andrew McIntyre took into account Bradley's 'long and gravely worrying history' of violence, which dates all the way back to 2003.

Defence lawyer Aidan Gallagher told the sentencing hearing: "It is fair to say that he has personal difficulties.

"He involved himself in certain cultures and this led to his offending behaviour."

Mr Gallagher said that Bradley had lost both of his parents in quick succession and his brother died in 'tragic circumstances' in 2003.

He added that the tenancy of the family home was lost to Bradley because of his offending.

Turning to the horrific street fight, Mr Gallagher said: "There was an altercation and thereafter Gary Bradley sustained very serious injuries and he came off far worse that the other person.

"But for medication intervention he could well have lost his life."

Greenock Sheriff Court was told last month how Bradley repeatedly struck the other man with the hammer and was stabbed with the screwdriver multiple times.

The incident — which happened at around 5.30pm on April 6 last year — resulted in him becoming 'unresponsive' and having to be rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Sheriff McIntyre told Bradley: "You suffered significant injuries as a result of your offence on this day, and I keep in mind the fact it was prosecuted as a breach of the peace and not an assault.

"Set against that I must take account of the serious nature of this offence.

"Your record for violence goes back to 2003.

"You have a long history that is gravely worrying to me and will be of grave concern to the public."

The sheriff added: "I am satisfied that the appropriate term should be three-and-a-half years.

"I will modify that to 38 months due to your guilty plea."

Bradley will also be kept under supervision for a year following his release from prison.

On being led away to begin his sentence he said: "Thanks."