A MAN who threatened his girlfriend’s former partner and two other witnesses in a Dumbarton street has been spared a prison sentence.

Christopher Ferguson shouted, swore and uttered threats of violence towards the trio in Ashton View on July 1 last year.

The 27-year-old appeared at Dumbarton Sheriff Court for sentencing on Friday after previously pleading guilty to a charge of threatening or abusive behaviour.

Ferguson’s lawyer, Ellen Macdonald, said there had been words exchanged on all sides in an argument over Ferguson having responsibility for looking after a group of children.

Ms Macdonald said that on the day after the incident, 23 phone calls were made to police and social workers about Ferguson, which were “found to be of a malicious nature”.

Ms Macdonald added: “He has a record [of previous convictions] that does him little credit. But he has effectively been out of trouble since 2016, has come off all drug use, and has modified his drinking to social occasions only.”

Sheriff Simon Pender told Ferguson: “With your record, you risk imprisonment whenever you appear in court.

“However, given the circumstances of this matter, with not inconsiderable hesitation I’m prepared to deal with this by way of an alternative to a custodial sentence.”

Ferguson was handed a community payback order (CPO) which will see him placed under social workers’ supervision for 12 months.

He was also told to carry out 270 hours of unpaid work - reduced from the maximum of 300 because of his guilty plea.

The CPO also includes a specific requirement which obliges Ferguson to attend any alcohol, drug or other counselling directed by his supervising social worker.

The sheriff warned: “If you do not comply completely, you can expect to be sentenced to a significant period in custody.”