A man from Watford has been jailed for a terrifying attack with a carving knife which left his victim with serious wounds to her hands as she fended him off.

Gregory Richards stabbed at victim Victoria Downing with a 12 inch knife during an argument at the house where he was staying in Brixham, Devon.

She passed out through the pain and shock of the attack and awoke to find blood pouring from her injured hand and suffered nerve damage that required specialist treatment in hospital.

Her attacker had subjected a previous girlfriend to an almost identical attack six years earlier, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Project manager Richards, 42, of Villiers Road, Oxhey, admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and the 2007 offence of actual bodily harm.

He was jailed for five years by Recorder Mr Paul Grumbar, who told him: "The ordeal this victim suffered must have been absolutely terrifying.

"It does not bear thinking about what was going through her mind when you came at her with that knife.

"Your problem is that from time to time you get very drunk when in the company of female acquaintances and behave in a way which can ruin their lives."

Mr Sean Brunton, prosecuting, said the attack on Miss Downing happened at 2.30am when Richards was staying with her at his father’s home in Brixham while visiting Devon from his home in Watford.

He said: "Police were called after she suffered a severe cut to her hand which he caused with a knife during an argument. She said he had taken the foot long carving knife and attacked her.

"She was taken to Torbay Hospital and on to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital because of suspected nerve damage to her hand.

"She told police they had been out and he was very drunk and became emotional. He became offensive and unpredictable and pushed her. She pushed him away but he grabbed her hair.

"They ended up on the ground and he got the knife and said he was going to kill her. He held the knife with a downward stabbing motion and she grabbed the blade to protect herself.

"She passed out and when she came round her hand was bleeding from the cut and she heard the defendant saying ‘Oh God’."

Mr Brunton said when police investigated they discovered there had been a similar incident in 2007 with another woman in which he threatened to kill her during a knife attack.