A VIOLENT thug who stabbed his mate during a petty row over a bicycle has been locked up indefinitely for the protection of the public .

Karl Harnwell, 42, was given an indeterminate prison sentence and told he must serve at least 27 months before he is considered for parole.

Harnwell was sentenced at Basildon Crown Court for stabbing Phillip Gay, 45, over an argument about borrowing his bicycle.

The attack in Gower Chase, Laindon, on June 29, left the dad-of-three needing emergency surgery for a 4inch deep wound to his chest, and treatment to another large gash on his side.

Andrew McGee, mitigating, said Harnwell was carrying the knife to cut melons, and had used it on the spur of the moment when confronted by an angry Mr Gay.

He also claimed Harnwell had worked hard to battle his addiction to crack-cocaine and alcohol and was genuinely sorry.

Harnwell of Parish Way, Laindon, admitted a charge of wounding with intent at a hearing last month.

Yesterday Judge Michael Brooke told Harnwell he posed a “cocktail of risks to a cocktail of people” and until he could prove he could control his explosive temper he would remain behind bars.

Judge Brooke told him: “You appear to view violence and intimidation as a type of currency in your communication with other people.

“Looking at this incident and your previous offences I am in no doubt you do pose a continued risk to the public.”

A shocking cartalogue of previous offences were revealed in court.

Harnwell has 29 convictions for 88 offences stretching back to 1984. He was sentenced to five years in jail in 1988 after attacking a man with a baseball bat outside a pub and jailed for two years in 1993 after kicking a man in the head as he lay unconoscious in Warrior Square, Southend.

Harnwell also has a string of convictions for domestic violence and admitted assaulting an ex-partner’s five-year-old boy by poking, pinching, slapping and rubbing excrement on him.

Following the sentencing investigating officer Det Con Lee Drury, of Basildon CID, said: "This was an absolutely horrendous attack.

"The victim was savagely attacked and very nearly lost his life.

"He will have to live with the physical and mental scars forever.

"Criminals like Harnwell should be in fear that if they perpetrate violence at any level they will be locked up."