AN Alexandria drunk who punched a man with MS in a beer garden has narrowly avoided jail - again.

Connor McGinty had been ordered to do the maximum 300 hours of unpaid work as an alternative to custody back in 2015.

He's now been given the same sentence again for his latest drunken attack with concerns by the court that the 26-year-old is not learning his lesson.

McGinty, of Golfhill Drive, previously pleaded guilty to assaulting the man at the Lomond Park Hotel in Balloch on July 24, 2022. He seized him by the clothing, punched him on the head and caused him to fall to the ground to his severe injury.

The case originally started as a more serious petition matter, heard Dumbarton Sheriff Court, before it was reduced.

Fiscal depute Megan Dow told a sentencing hearing on February 13 that around 12.45am, McGinty was in the beer garden with another man. About five minutes later, "for unknown reasons", he grabbed the t-shirt of the victim and began arguing with him.

Someone else tried to intervene and McGinty became aggressive. He was asked to leave but refused.

Door staff managed to convince him to leave but then he grabbed the witness and punched him.

The two were separated and police arrived around 1.10am.

Ms Dow said the victim has MS and was treated at the RAH for a 1cm cut to his left cheek.

Defence solicitor Stephen McGuire said if his client reacted to anything the victim said, his reaction was unacceptable.

He said: "It does seem something has happened between them before the punch.

"He does not dispute anything in the narrative or any justification - there is none."

The solicitor said despite McGinty's record, there was "a lot of water under the bridge" and he had not come to the attention of authorities since 2017.

He has been under a bail curfew for 18 months awaiting the end of the case. And Mr McGuire said his client had taken advantage of that time to avoid getting in trouble.

Sheriff Maxwell Hendry noted that after a 2015 assault to severe injury, when McGinty was 17, he was put on a community payback order (CPO) with supervision for two years, 300 hours of unpaid work and £750 in compensation.

He said: "The court at that point was considering custody and just held back. Now we have an assault to severe injury."

Defence solicitor Stephen McGuire said: "It's a fine balance."

But the sheriff again pressed: "There is not a sign that lessons have been learned. He is still prepared to get very drunk and commit violence."

Mr McGuire said: "It does appear to be a one-off.

"He is now a family man. He knows any community-based disposal will be a very high tariff.

"He apologises profusely for his behaviour on the night. There is an assurance from the [social work] report that he has changed the way he deals with alcohol.

"Behaviour like this will not be tolerated."

Sheriff Hendry told McGinty: "In 2015, you were a young man and I'm going to assume an immature man who didn't know how to deal with alcohol.

"Unfortunately since then, you have continued to get into trouble.

"You have been offered repeated community-based sentences intended to give you the opportunity to pay a penalty and learn from your mistakes.

"Instead of that, on July 24, when extremely drunk, you assaulted to severe injury, that person being an MS victim.

"I have to ask myself if I would be failing my duties to the community by not sending you to prison.

"You're 26 - you ought to know how to behave yourself. You have come as close as you will ever want to come to going to prison."

The sheriff said it was only McGinty's family commitments and employment that saved him from being locked up.

But he warned: "If you commit practically any offence, then I think prison will become inevitable."

He imposed a new CPO with 18 months supervision by social workers and he must take any alcohol counselling or treatment as directed.

He must do 300 hours of unpaid work in the community - the maximum - within a year.

McGinty must also pay £1000 in compensation to the victim.

The sheriff added: "You better take a long, hard look at how you deal with alcohol. This is a direct alternative to custody."