A ROUGH-SLEEPER who stabbed another man after being invited into his home to stay the night is starting a lengthy prison sentence.

Lewis Donachie knifed the kind stranger in the back three times in a seemingly unprovoked attack at the flat in Stockton last September.

The 24-year-old was originally charged with attempted murder, but admitted the lesser offence of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The guilty plea was accepted by prosecutors at Teesside Crown Court as Donachie was about to go on trial this afternoon.

He was jailed for eight years and four months by Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, and told: "There was no reason at all for you to do what you did.

"Your victim was 51 when you attacked him. He was to some extent vulnerable by reason he had been drinking all day and was in his own home, a home to which he invited you to stay out of the goodness of his heart, and you thanked him by attacking him.

"You struck him three times with considerable force. Fortunately, he did not die from his injuries."

The victim spent a fortnight in hospital after surgery, which included a chest drain, and told in a statement how he still suffers from nightmares.

He said he had to move to a bungalow because of his injuries, which have left him breathless and unable to climb stairs.

"I wake up in pain and I go to sleep in pain," said the statement, which was read to the court by prosecutor Jolyon Perks. "It feels like someone is just sitting on my chest, it is that restrictive.

"I don't understand why this has happened. There was no reason for him to stab me.

"I invited him into my home and he has done this to me. "

The victim and two friends encountered homeless Donachie outside of an off-licence when they went to buy more alcohol at about 9pm on September 28.

They returned to the flat in Scarth Walk where Donachie - who was said by his barrister not to have been drinking, but withdrawing from heroin - became aggressive.

He got a steak knife from the kitchen and plunged it into his victim, with the other two men telling police he used all of his bodily force and was "dancing" around.

He was disarmed by one of the others and thrown out, after "being given a talking to with the fists of these honourable gentlemen", in the words of his barrister Francis Fitzgibbon, QC.

Mr Fitzgibbon told the court that Donachie had a troubled childhood, was often excluded from school, and ended up homeless, using drugs and committing usually petty crimes to pay for his habit.

He said the drifter had often been assaulted, spat at and abused by people in the street and felt vulnerable, and "perceived" to be under threat in the flat.

"He accepts that whatever was on his mind caused him to over-react and pick up the knife and stab the complainant," added Mr Fitzgibbon.

"When he was arrested he said he was disgusted by what he had done. He felt remorse a.most immediately for what he had done.

"This is a troubled young man who has taken a serious wrong turn and done a bad thing, but this will be the last bad thing he does, with a bit of luck."

Acting Detective Sergeant Shaun Jackson, from Stockton Operational Crime Team, said: “I welcome the sentence handed to Lewis Donachie. It shows just how seriously the court takes incidents of this nature and the severe consequences that using a knife can have.

"Fortunately, the outcome for the victim in this case was not as bad as it could have been had he been more seriously injured. Now that justice has been served, I hope that he can continue to recover and move forward with his life.”