A TEENAGER who expected to be jailed for punching a taxi driver shook and held his head when a sheriff chose to place him on a tagging curfew.

Paul Dowds, 19, had rejected the offer of a community payback order and kissed and hugged his mum before entering the dock - then he was told he must stay at home every night for six months.

Dowds struck his victim in an unprovoked late night assault when he and a group of his pals surrounded his car on Greenock's Roxburgh Street after another youth had got into the vehicle.

Lawman Andrew McIntyre gave him the option an 18-month supervision order with drug and alcohol counselling after noting that Dowds began abusing cannabis at the age of 13.

But after consulting with the young offender, defence lawyer Aidan Gallagher told the sheriff court: "His position is that he doesn't believe he would be able to sustain such a programme."

Prosecutor Jennifer McKee earlier stated: "The taxi driver was within his car when a male entered the rear of the vehicle and stated for him to 'go'.

"A group of males surrounded the taxi at this stage and the driver exited the vehicle in order to tell the accused and others to leave.

"The accused then struck the driver below his left eye with his fist.

"This resulted in a slight cut and swelling."

Dowds, of Dempster Street, committed the offence shortly before 11pm on April 10 last year.

Solicitor Mr Gallagher said: "He was intoxicated through alcohol and there appears to have been issue between himself and some of those he associated himself with at the time."

Sheriff McIntyre noted that Dowds had been encouraged to self refer to drugs counsellors and didn't, failed to take up the offer of a college course and passed up on the chance of a place with the Venture Trust.

He said: "He has had a lot of public time and money put in and he doesn't seem to have made a positive change for his future.

"Were it not for his age I would not be having this discussion just now, because an assault on a taxi driver should result in a custodial sentence."

Dowds hung his head and sighed as the sheriff placed him on an electronic tag to remain at home between 7pm and 7am for the duration of the order.