A drug addict who stabbed and brutally attacked a stranger in the street - believing he was someone else - has been locked up.

A judge described a 'vicious and prolonged attack with a highly dangerous weapon' as he jailed Tony Combs for nine years.

Combs, 39, stabbed the man once in the back with a kitchen knife, then kicked and punched him in the head.

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A court in Salford was told the puncture wound was only millimetres away from causing him a permanent spinal cord injury.

In a victim impact statement read out at the Nightingale Court at the Lowry Theatre, the victim said: "I genuinely believed that I was going to die.

"I believe what has happened to me will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was a horrific experience.

"It could have been a lot worse. You do not hear of many happy endings when someone is attacked with a knife."

The court was told that 'for whatever reason', Combs, from Dukinfield, thought the victim 'was a person who had robbed someone'.

Howard Bernstein, defending, said: "This person was entirely innocent."

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He said Combs, of no fixed abode who appeared in court over a video link, had a 'long-standing drug addition'.

The victim had spinal surgery and remained in hospital for a week after the attack.

Police and paramedics were called to Portland Place, off Mottram Road in Stalybridge, Tameside, on June 21 last year.

The court heard that Combs was with his partner when a man he knew came round.

Both then left the house to buy 'kebab meat' from a takeaway.

The victim was visiting a friend on Mottram Road and the court heard Combs was seen near a ginnel agitated and 'pacing around'.

Judge Recorder Jeremy Lasker said he appeared to be 'under the influence of drugs'.

Mottram Road, Stalybridge

Geoff Whelan, prosecuting, said when the victim walked past the ginnel after leaving his friend's house, Combs grabbed him, pushed him, grabbed his shirt then pulled out a knife and said 'give me all your s***'.

He tried to get away, but Combs stabbed him once in the back.

Part of the blade snapped off and remained lodged in his spine, causing him 'excruciating pain', Mr Whelan said.

He said Combs kicked and punched him before 'somehow, he managed to get away'.

"He felt like he was going to die," Mr Whelan said.

Ashton

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"A friend called 999. A number of witnesses saw the attack. They all describe a vicious, one-sided attack."

Combs - who has a long history of previous convictions - was arrested in Stalybridge the next day and asked police: "Is he still alive?

"I did not mean to do it. I thought it was someone else."

The court heard the friend Combs was with at the time had wrongly told him the man was someone else.

A judge said Combs posed a risk to the public

Recorder Lasker told him: "I have seen the photos. You caused serious injuries by your later assault on him. Happily, he managed to get away from you. He was extremely lucky, no thanks to you.

"You used a highly dangerous weapon and it was a vicious, prolonged attack. This could have been worse. It is only sheer luck that it wasn't."

Combs pleaded guilty to section 18 wounding and possession of a bladed article at an earlier court hearing.

Recorder Lasker passed an extended sentence to 'protect the public', saying he believed Combs posed a significant risk of committing other offences. The sentence included an extended licence period of four years.

He said Combs would serve two thirds of the nine-year sentence before the parole board could consider his release.

On release the remainder of the sentence, if any, would be served on licence, followed by another four years on licence.

Detective Constable Rick McIvor commended the victim's bravery.

Speaking after the sentencing hearing on Friday, he said: "This was a completely senseless and violent attack on an innocent member of the public who had simply been visiting a friend and was on his way home.

"I am pleased that Combs has received a custodial sentence today, as he very much deserves to be jailed for this attack, which has left the victim with lasting mental and physical trauma.

"I hope today provides at least a small sense of justice and allows his victim to continue to move on with his life knowing this dangerous man has been removed from our streets."