THE danger posed by a man convicted of a pub stabbing is to be assessed before he is sentenced for the attack.

Gary Watkins followed the other man shortly after an earlier confrontation in The Lambton Arms, Chester-le-Street, and thrust a sharp pointed article into him three times, before fleeing the Front Street premises.

Durham Crown Court heard that the victim, a middle-aged man, was drinking with his partner and friends on the night of the incident, on October 26, last year.

Shortly before 8.30pm he went to the gents’ toilet, followed by Watkins, with whom words were exchanged.

Joanne Kidd, prosecuting, said on leaving the toilets, the defendant again followed the other man, who turned and punched Watkins, telling him to, “get out of his face”.

As he turned to return to his partner and friends, he was again followed by Watkins, who was seen to remove something from his pocket, before inflicting three short, sharp jabbing blows with a sharp implement, the first two from behind.

Miss Kidd said the injuries were to the back of the victim’s thigh, to his buttock and, after turning to face Watkins, the side of his body.

He was treated at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary for the three stab wounds.

Watkins left the pub and the implement used in the attack was never recovered.

He was arrested three days later but made no comment to police in interview.

Watkins accepted causing the injuries, but denied charges of wounding with intent, the alternative of unlawful wounding and possessing an offensive weapon.

Miss Kidd told a trial jury that the issue was whether he was, in any way, acting in self-defence.

But, she said the fact that the first two injuries were inflicted by Watkins from behind was, “very significant”.

“The Crown would say he was in no imminent danger of being attacked himself, so there was no need whatsoever to take that bladed article out of his pocket.”

Watkins chose not to give evidence at the trial, but his barrister, Dan Cordey told the jury he was fearful having been punched moments before the attack.

The jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts on the wounding with intent and offensive weapon charges.

Judge Christopher Prince remanded Watkins, 26, of Wynyard, Chester-le-Street, in custody pending preparation of a pre-sentence report by the Probation Service.

He asked that the report author assesses the perceived dangerousness posed by Watkins, who has previous offences of violence on his record.

Watkins will be sentenced on April 26.