A 'courageous' passer-by was repeatedly stabbed after trying to stop three men from being robbed in Bolton town centre, a court heard.

Patrick Cullen and accomplice Regan Sharples have now both been jailed for their roles in the vicious knife attack.

The pair - both 21 - approached the three men who were sat on a bench in Victoria Square just after 11pm on May 9.

Bolton Crown Court heard Cullen took out a knife, then repeatedly punched all three of the victims to the head and face - demanding they hand over their phones and money.

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Judge Martin Walsh said Sharples, of Shaw Road, Horwich, Bolton, was 'present throughout the whole incident' and 'reinforced the demands'.

"The three males were racially abused. All of them have sustained some physical injury. At least one had heavy bleeding to the face," the judge said.

The passer-by, was on his way home from work when he saw what was happening and intervened.

He tried to take the knife from Cullen, but the two 21-year-old defendants turned on him, the court heard.

A bystander tried to take the knife from Patrick Cullen

Sharples brought out a bottle from his jacket and Cullen stabbed his head and legs.

Judge Walsh described it as a 'brutal attack' on a 'young man acting courageously'.

The victim managed to get away from the two men - then made his way towards a group of people, telling them to call the police.

But Cullan and Sharples caught up with him on their bikes and demanded he handed over 'all of the money in his possession'.

"This was just two pounds," the judge said.

Cullen, of no fixed abode, then attacked him again - cutting his leg.

The incident ended when the police arrived, and after a 'short chase', the two defendants were apprehended.

Sharples was also found to be in possession of a knife, the court heard.

The victim survived the stab wounds to the head - with Jude Walsh telling the court that the consequences could have been worse.

But the stab wounds on his legs have led to mobility issues - with him suffering from muscle spasms.

"The impact has been significant," the judge said.

"He was unable to return to work because of the trauma of the attack."

The court heard that Cullen, at just 21, has committed 62 offences in 33 separate convictions.

He had recently been released from prison after serving 15 months of a two-and-a-half year sentence, the court heard.

His defence barrister said he had given up smoking and drinking - and that buying a bottle of Jack Daniel's that evening was what explained his behaviour.

"There is no excuse in it," Colin Buckle, defending, said.

"It is the truth in how, because, in effect, he bought alcohol. It was on sale, and I don't know why he bought it," he said.

Mr Buckle said that Cullen is young and that although he has a number of convictions 'he is not prone to violence'.

"He was riding around town with Regan Sharples. They were no trouble to anybody until that bottle of JD was bought," he said.

The barrister said that what he did was 'unplanned, unsophisticated and opportunistic'.

Sharples was sentenced to six years in prison

The court that Sharples is of 'previous good character' - his criminal record only containing possession of cannabis.

Mark Friend, defending for Sharples, told the court that he comes from a 'supportive loving family'.

"It's frankly staggering to those who know Regan Sharples that he would behave in this way but behave in this way he did," he said.

He said that had he not met up with Cullen, who had not seen in some time, he wouldn't have committed any offences.

"It is a decision which Mr Sharples will regret for many years," he said.

Judge Walsh, addressing Cullen said: "You, Cullen, played the leading role."

"You intended to cause him serious injury."

Cullen, of no fixed abode, has been sentenced to 12 months and nine months in prison, for four robbery offences, wounding with intent, attempted robbery, and possession of a knife in a public place.. He admitted to all of the offences.

Judge Walsh, in explaining why Sharples should not be given an extended prison sentence, said: "You did not on your own part intend to cause really serious injury," the judge said.

Sharples was sentenced to six years in prison for four robbery offences, unlawful wounding, attempted robbery, and possession of a knife in a public place. He also admitted the offences.