A DANGEROUS Greenock thug who tried to murder a woman as she waited for a taxi has been jailed for 11 years.

Robert Warnock, 23, was armed with a meat cleaver and an axe when he attacked defenceless Lynsey O'Neill in the town's east end, inflicting horrific injuries.

Warnock also seriously wounded her partner Scott Mitchell when he went to her aid during the street attack on June 28 last year.

As he appeared in the dock at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday, a judge told Warnock he'd carried out 'a brutal and cowardly attack'.

Judge Gordon Liddle told him: "You are a particularly dangerous man."

Warnock had previously denied attempting to murder Ms O'Neill, 37, in Belville Street by brandishing weapons at her and striking her on the neck with the cleaver to her severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of her life.

But he was found guilty after a trial and of assaulting 43-year-old Mr Mitchell to his severe injury and permanent disfigurement by striking him on the head and body with the weapon.

Judge Liddle said: "There was evidence that you were directed 'to do them'.

"The evidence was that you readily complied with a brutal and cowardly attack on them."

Ms O'Neill sustained a wound stretching from one ear round to the centre of her neck.

The judge told Warnock: "It is something of a miracle that you did not hit an artery."

His victim had to be placed in an induced coma in hospital while her wounds were treated.

The court heard that Warnock's explanation to a social worker preparing a background report on him that he had a small knife and accidentally injured the woman appeared to be 'inconsistent with the evidence before the jury'.

Warnock was assessed as posing a high-risk of re-offending.

He was previously jailed for serious assault and crimes involving knives and a baseball bat.

The judge said: "From that history it can be read that you have a violent disposition and have repeatedly been associated with weapons."

He added that it was also clear that Warnock's offending was escalating.

The judge told him: "Because of the gravity of the violent crimes you have committed and your previous criminal record, a custodial sentence is the only appropriate disposal."

He also ordered that Warnock should be kept under supervision for a further three year period.

Ms O'Neill had left a cousin's home with her partner after a taxi was called to take them home.

She said they became a target for abuse before suddenly being attacked.

She said: "I was not expecting to leave my cousin's and get ambushed.

"I remember staggering into the street, collapsing and holding my neck."

Defence counsel Matt Jackson QC said that Warnock has been drinking since he was aged 12, but did not regard alcohol as a problem.

He started using cannabis when he was 12 but said he stopped three years later because he thought it was making him paranoid.

Mr Jackson said that by the age of 11 his client was under supervision because of neglect.

He added: "That seems to be about the time that he came to the attention of the police for his own activities."

The defence counsel acknowledged that when Warnock was consuming alcohol he was 'prone to behaving in very anti-social and often violent ways'.

Mr Jackson said: "The report suggests he is a high risk of re-offending and he agrees with that."

The defence counsel said Warnock had raised with the social worker the possibility of an extended sentence, involving imprisonment and further supervision following release.

The QC added: "He says that what has happened in the past is he comes out of prison and he is straight back out on the streets again and there is absolutely no security for him or indeed us, as members of the public."

He said that unemployed Warnock had expressed remorse and a willingness to break the cycle of offending.