A TEENAGER who was stabbed four times in the stomach by a fellow pupil at a learning centre told how he thought he was going to die.

Sheldon Kelly was speaking after 18-year-old Ryan Gorton was sentenced to four years and eight months in a young offenders institution for the attack at Rathbone Learning Centre in Chorley Street, Bolton.

Sheldon, aged 16, said after the case: "I knew he was going to do something but I didn't know he had got a knife. There was lots of blood all over my hand. I thought I was going to die."

Bolton Crown court heard how Gorton attacked Sheldon as he left the centre on May 8 after staff had called a taxi to try to diffuse a dispute between the pair.

But as Sheldon was about to get into the taxi he was ambushed by Gorton, who stabbed him four times with a knife he had taken from his mother's kitchen.

The court heard how office clerk Rebecca Moran grabbed Gorton's arms, forcing him to drop the knife.

Sheldon was taken by air ambulance to the Royal Preston Hospital, where he underwent surgery and spent time in intensive care before being allowed home six days later.

David Clarke, prosecuting, said no major organs had been damaged by the blows to Sheldon's abdomen from the knife, which had a six inch blade.

Gorton, of Halliwell Road, Bolton, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent and to possessing a knife in public.

Recorder Mark Ainsworth, sentencing him to four years and eight months in a young offenders institution, told him: "A serious aggravating factor in this case is you took a knife and used a knife at college. That, in itself, is a matter of great public concern."

Mr Clarke told the court how Sheldon, now aged 17, and Gorton were both students at the learning centre, a charity-run organisation which supports teenagers and helps them gain qualifications.

Two days before the stabbing, Sheldon and another student, Matthew Williamson, had come across Gorton in Halliwell.

Sheldon later told police that he had been playing with a piece of tin foil in his hand and waved it at Gorton pretending it was a knife.

Gorton ran off, believing he had been threatened with a knife, but Mr Clarke said the pair then exchanged messages via Facebook, with Gorton refusing to accept Sheldon's apologies.

He added that at 11am on May 8, Sheldon approached Ms Moran to tell her about the problem with Gorton and she held a meeting with the two students to try to resolve the dispute.

But Gorton was angry and maintained that Sheldon had held a knife to his throat.

He stormed out of the meeting threatening: "He's either going to get shot or stabbed!"

Staff decided it would be safest to send Matthew Williamson and Sheldon home in a taxi and Ms Moran and tutor Alan Gaskell escorted the teenagers to the vehicle when it arrived just after noon.

Mr Williamson got in the back of the vehicle, but as Sheldon went to the front passenger side Gorton appeared and stood in front of him.

Ms Moran told police that at first she thought Gorton was punching the teenager but then she saw blood on his coat.

"She grabbed him (Gorton) back by the arms and pulled him back," said Mr Clarke.

Gorton dropped the knife and Ms Moran picked it up and took it into her office for safekeeping.

When she returned outside again, three youths were kicking Sheldon, although Gorton denied he was involved in the assault.

After his arrest, Gorton told police Sheldon deserved being attacked, adding, "I didn't want to kill him. I'll go to jail - so what!"

Sarah Johnson, defending Gorton, described him as educationally disadvantaged and emotionally immature and added that he now regrets what happened.

Recorder Ainsworth described the Rathbone staff's actions to try and diffuse the dispute between the teenagers as "commendable."

"Unfortunately attempts to protect Sheldon were not successful," he added.

Speaking after attending the hearing, Sheldon's mother Tracie Lowe said she was satisfied by the sentence.

She told how she had rushed to the centre after being told Sheldon was injured.

"He was so pale. I thought he was going to die.I just couldn't believe it," she said.

She added that doctors told her that he had been saved from more serious injury because he had been wearing a jumper and thick bomber jacket.

"They said he has been very lucky," she said.

Despite the physical injuries healing Miss Lowe says Sheldon's psychological scars remain.

He has returned to his studies but no longer likes large crowds and has a fear of knives.

A spokesman for Rathbone Training said: “The safety and welfare of our learners and colleagues is our absolute priority and we would like to thank Greater Manchester Police for their support during this investigation.”

Sheldon, who has now returned to Rathbone's to complete his studies and is hoping to start an apprenticeship in motor mechanics next year, has admitted that he felt frightened by his ordeal and remains nervous when going out. "I always have to stand in corners facing out," he said.

Commenting on the length of sentence Gorton received, Sheldon said: "It should have been longer."