A MAN who stabbed a teenager with a cheese knife he found in a pub's beer garden did not do it deliberately, a judge has ruled.

Darryl Stokes, 41, had pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding and possession of a bladed article but claimed he had not intended to stab 17-year-old Mackenzie Harding on February 7 this year following an incident in the Lord Raglan on Halliwell Road.

Following a trial of issue at Bolton Crown Court, Judge Timothy Stead agreed with Stokes' account that three separate injuries to Mr Harding had been caused when the defendant had been trying to escape his victim who had been pursuing him on foot.

Appearing as a witness for the prosecution, Mr Harding said he had been at a friend's house in Halliwell and was walking along Torrington Avenue at around 11.15pm when he saw a girl he knew from college.

She was distressed and said a man had stolen her purse and jacket while she was in the Lord Raglan.

Mr Harding said a man could be seen running away and he gave chase before the man hid behind a van parked on Bride Street.

When asked by Simon Barrett, prosecuting, what had happened next, Mr Harding, said: "He came at me with a hard nudge like a shoulder barge in football.

"He came into me with force like he wanted to hurt me then I heard the knife drop to the floor and he ran off."

Mr Harding said he received two small puncture wounds and a larger 'slash' wound to the stomach all of which required hospital treatment.

Stokes, of Darwin Street, Bolton, was later arrested and admitted causing the wounds with a broken two-pronged knife that was recovered at the scene.

Questioned by Anthony O'Donohoe, defending, Stokes said he had been in the Lord Raglan where he had been accused by a group of people of rifling through a coat.

The group had chased him out of the pub which is when Mr Harding had joined the pursuit.

When asked about the knife, Stokes said he had found it in the beer garden while smoking.

"I thought it was a nice knife so I kept it," he said. "I didn't get a chance to give it in before I was chased out of the pub."

Stokes admitted dropping the knife and then picking it up while he was being chased but he said this was to stop the people chasing him using it on him.

When questioned about the stabbing, Stokes said he was squatting down by the wheel of a van when he heard Mr Harding approaching and gave the court a demonstration of how he raised his arms while escaping.

"I heard footsteps and all of a sudden I heard someone say 'he's here'," he said, before adding that the injuries to the teenager occurred as he got up and tried to push past Mr Harding before running off.

"I did not even realise I stabbed him," added Stokes. "I forgot I had the knife in my hand."

Judge Stead said he felt that Mr Harding's injuries were consistent with Stokes' account and the fact that the puncture wounds were minor showed he had not made a stabbing motion towards the teenager.

"The defendant says that the injuries were caused by the knife that was in his hand and accordingly he has pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding and is advancing the basis that he did that recklessly rather than intentionally," said Judge Stead.

"He says he had forgotten the knife was in his hand and his intention was to get away from the people who were pursuing him.

"I do not find that he stabbed or otherwise deliberately caused a wound with the knife and I think the injury was caused by him trying to get past Mr Harding.

"He caused the injury but he was not in fact intending to cause an injury with that knife."

Judge Stead adjourned the case for a pre-sentence report and released Stokes on bail where he will be the subject of an electronic curfew until he returns to Bolton Crown Court for sentencing on Thursday, September 10.