A knifeman who slashed his victim across the face escaped a potentially longer jail term when his target refused to testify against him.

Gavin Hubbard, 30, left the man with a permanent scar after slashing his face open from ear to chin following a row at the hostel they both lived in.

After the attack at Martin House, Upper Lattimore Road, St Albans, on August 12, the fellow resident failed to cooperate with the police investigation.

Hubbard was due to stand trial on the more serious charge of deliberately injuring the 25-year-old and causing GBH.

However, after he failed to appear at St Albans Crown Court on Thursday, George Heimler, prosecution said there was no choice but to accept Hubbard’s guilty plea to a less serious charge in the GBH range.

He was jailed for two years after entering a guilty plea on a written basis.

The court heard Hubbard grabbed a knife during an argument and slashed him before fleeing.

When police arrived Hubbard said he knew nothing of the injury and that it must have been self inflicted.

Hubbard, who has a previous conviction for GBH and drugs offences, later claimed to have been acting in self defence but conceded he had gone too far.

Emma Reed, for the defence said on the day Hubbard was not coping as well as he normally would following the recent loss of his five-year-old niece, who was killed in “very traumatic circumstances”.

Since being remanded in custody, she claimed, he had helped fellow inmates to learn to read and hoped to become a drugs counsellor one day.

Judge John Plumstead said Hubbard would have been looking at up to seven years’ imprisonment if the victim had helped convict him of the more serious offence.

Hubbard could have also ended up serving an effective life sentence if the judge found him a danger and imposed an extended sentence for public protection.

Judge Plumstead said: “[Because of] the lack of cooperation the crown has had has dramatically reduced the sentence you face.

“From past knowledge of you I have some reason to think there is a decent, articulate, sensible man standing before me, but one that lacks self control and forethought.

“You put yourself in a position of conflict, but it cannot be said you were acting in a premeditative way.

“It was short of the worst category of offending, but it is particularly unpleasant when you see the result of what you did.

“Somehow during that conflict you took a blade and made use of it across a man’s face cutting him from ear to chin.

“That is never going to be dealt with by anything other than immediate imprisonment.

“Two years is the least I can impose. If it had been found you had used it deliberately it would have been more than three times that.”