TWO asylum-seekers have been jailed for stabbing a fellow Iraqi Kurd who owed them money.

Hassan Ali, 24, was jailed for 18 months and Mevan Salim, 20, was given 18 months' detention in a young offenders' institution for the attack in Middlesbrough.

The pair, both of Missenden Grove, Middlesbrough, admitted causing grievous bodily harm to Mahdi Hussain, in Linthorpe Road on September 1.

Teesside Crown Court was told that it is not known what was used to attack Mr Hussain, but two screwdrivers and a potato peeler were found in his assailants' car.

Adrian Strong, prosecuting, said the incident was captured on security cameras, and the operator directed police to Ali and Salim, who were escaping.

Mr Strong told the court that Ali had hit Mr Hussain at his workplace earlier that day, after he confronted him over a £50 debt. That evening, Ali and Salim, who was owed £20, arranged to meet Mr Hussain at the Arab Grocery Store and attacked him in the doorway after an argument.

Mr Hussain was stabbed in the shoulder and back before he was cornered and repeatedly stabbed again.

Mr Strong said Mr Hussain sought sanctuary in the shop and the pair fled, but were arrested soon after in Ali's car.

Ali told police at the time of the attack: "I was fighting with him. He owes me money."

Nigel Soppitt, for Salim, said Mr Hussain has forgiven both men and visited them while they were on remand.

They were said to have been surprised at being prosecuted because in Iraq, if a criminal is forgiven, then charges are dropped.

Salim and Ali were said to have suffered while on remand because they cannot speak English and have no way of communicating with fellow inmates or staff.

Mr Soppitt said: "A sentence of imprisonment will have a profound effect on this man."

John Gillette, for Ali, said: "He finds it difficult to comprehend how thing have reached this position.

"He, too, has had an ongoing relationship with Mr Hussain, who has visited him in prison."

Ali has been told he will be forced to leave the UK after an unsuccessful appeal, and Mr Gillette said a prison sentence followed by deportation would be "almost too much to bear".