A TEENAGER caught carrying a knife in the Oak Mall shopping centre has failed to 'grasp' the seriousness of the offence — but been spared jail.

Adam McFadyen has instead been given a full year to complete 80 hours of unpaid work, which equates to 6.6 hours a month.

The 19-year-old first offender — who wants to join the Army — will also be kept under supervision in the community for the 12-month period.

Sheriff Michael Higgins told McFadyen: "There is some suggestion in the (background) report that you have difficulty in grasping the seriousness of this offence.

"Albeit that this is your first offence, it could easily have been dealt with by way of a custodial sentence.

"The offence is of a nature that will not be tolerated."

Greenock Sheriff Court heard how McFadyen had been diagnosed with mental health problems in primary school.

Defence lawyer Edward Sweeney said: "The report is fairly detailed.

"He did reasonably well in school and has aspirations to join the Army."

Mr Sweeney added: "It has to be accepted that it is a very serious offence and he understands that.

"He recognises, on the advice of his family and the like, that it is not appropriate to carry any weapon."

McFadyen, formerly of Greenock's Newton Street but now living with his mother in Skelmorlie, had the blade with him in the Mall last July.

He had also been charged with being there in circumstances where it would be reasonable to infer that he intended to commit theft but his not guilty plea to this allegation was accepted.

McFadyen was admonished on a conviction for failing to appear in court for a previous calling of the case.

A progress review hearing for his community payback order has been set for May 20.