A BRAVE former soldier who lost his leg in a knife attack 16 years ago says he'll never get over what happened to him.

Greenock man Steven Hughes was subjected to a brutal unprovoked attack in the street while trying to lift cash from a machine.

While his attacker was caught and locked up, Steven says he is the one living with a life sentence.

He is calling for tougher sentencing on blade crime, a decade on from being part of a community campaign which came within two votes of an historic law change which would have introduced mandatory jail terms for blade carriers.

The 41-year-old has had to battle to stay alive while fighting deteriorating health, life-threatening infections and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Steven said: "I live in fear every day.

"I am terrified of knives.

"It is so bad I can't even have them in the house.

"I think we should find a way to restrict the availability of them as much as is possible."

Steven was one of the leading lights around the No Knives Better Lives initiative, which was piloted in Inverclyde following an award-winning campaign led by local man John Muir MBE along with the Tele.

He also went on to help set up a support group for victims.

Steven admits he is disappointed that blade crime continues to blight Inverclyde.

He told the Telegraph: "Sometimes I don't think anything has changed at all.

"There was a time when knife crime was falling.

"But now it feels as bad as ever.

"We need still need tougher sentencing.

"I was given the life sentence and it is the same for all victims."

Before he was attacked in September 2005 Steven had dreams of a life in the army after serving with the TA.

But he was set upon by a complete stranger at a cash machine in Greenock's Inverkip Street and his life changed forever.

His attacker pleaded guilty at the High Court in Glasgow to repeatedly stabbing Steven and was sent to the state hospital.

Steven spent months in hospital recovering, but that was just the beginning.

He has had numerous complications and is now completely confined to a wheelchair.

He says he has very little mobility left and has had to fight a series of dangerous infections.

Steven said: "I now have almost no mobility at all."

Despite his own suffering Steven was determined to to help the No Knives Better Lives campaign, which influences both schools and youth work.

Inverclyde Council recently pledged to continue the initiative with sessions in secondary schools and in youth clubs, 12 years after the programme was first introduced.

As he looks to the future Steven believes young people need to be confronted with the consequences of knife crime and says he would welcome the opportunity to speak to classes directly.

He said: "I think it is very hard to break the cycle.

"Carrying knives is passed from one generation to another.

"I would like to go into schools and speak to these kids face to face.

"I would tell them how knife carriers may think they are the big man but they just ruin lives - those of their victims and their loved ones, as well as their own families, and they put themselves in jail."