A THUG who left a man scarred for life in a vicious knife attack in a Helensburgh street hopes to train to be a barber when he’s released from jail.

William Cooper left his victim badly hurt in the violent assault in John Street last year.

The 34-year-old’s career goal was revealed when he appeared at Dumbarton Sheriff Court on Thursday for sentencing, having previously been found guilty by a jury of a charge of assault to severe injury and permanent disfigurement.

Cooper, who was described in court papers as an inmate at Greenock prison, was convicted of striking his victim “on the head with a knife or similar implement” in the town centre street on January 20, 2018.

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The attack took place after Cooper had been granted bail at the same court on no fewer than three occasions – on March 24, April 27 and June 2 2017.

The thug, who stood trial earlier this year after denying the charge, and other accusations of assault and robbery, became eligible for parole in February after receiving a 25-month sentence last year for a string of other offences dating back to between 2013 and 2017.

Following the jury’s verdict, sentence on Cooper was deferred to enable social workers to prepare a background report on his circumstances.

Cooper’s solicitor, Judith Hutchison, told Sheriff William Gallacher on April 18 that abuse of drugs, and particularly alcohol, lay behind her client’s string of offences.

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Ms Hutchison said: “He was sentenced on April 11, 2018, to a total of 25 months, backdated to January 26, 2018.

“To his credit he advises me today that he has taken himself off all illicit substances. He has not pursued a methadone programme while in custody, did not receive counselling, and has not undertaken any drug awareness course.

“Within prison he has engaged in an alcohol reduction programme, and has registered to commentce a violence reduction programme.

“He recognises that over the last 15 months a lot of his behaviour has been attributed to his drug, and in particular alcohol, abuse, and he has realised he needs to do something about it.

“He doesn’t see a future for himself if he continues down that line of behaviour.

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“There is mention in the report of a course in barbering. That is not something he has undertaken just to impress the court; it is something he has wanted to do for some time, but his lifestyle prevented that.

“He thinks that things might have been slightly different in his life if he had gone down that route before.

“The report indicates he fully intends to go to college when released – and also to move away from many of the risk factors in his life, including the circle of people he was involved with in Helensburgh, who have been a completely negative influence on him.”

Sheriff Gallacher said: “There is no option but a significant custodial sentence.”

At the trial, a jury found Cooper not guilty of two further charges: one alleging that the day after the John Street incident, he violently assaulted two people at a house in Malcolm Place in Helensburgh and robbed them of a set of keys and a mobile phone, and the other claiming that he refused to leave his cell at Greenock prison to take part in an ID parade.

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Cooper’s past offences included a sustained and violent assault on a woman at a property in the Govan area of Glasgow in 2013; thefts of alcohol from the Co-op and Tesco Metro stores in Sinclair Street in 2017; shouting, swearing and making racial remarks at the Lifestyle Express store in East Princes Street that same year; and shouting, swearing and making offensive remarks to his ex-partner in Williamson Drive in January 2018 – the same month as the John Street attack.

Addressing Cooper directly the sheriff added: “I do nothing other than commend you if you have taken steps to address your drug and alcohol problems.

“While I did not hear a comprehensive account of this incident [during the trial], it is clear that during a very brief incident, you did use a knife to cause serious harm to somebody.”

Cooper was jailed for 14 months.