A HEARTBROKEN man stabbed his best friend in the stomach after breaking up with his girlfriend.

John Withers had been homeless since the split but was given shelter by Trevor Phillips, a former work colleague.

But Withers got drunk after an unexpected meeting with his ex-partner and returned to Mr Phillips' house in the village of Wickhamford, near Evesham, in "a zombie state", said Alex Warren, prosecuting.

He stuck the kitchen knife four inches into Mr Phillips' stomach in an unprovoked attack.

When police arrived, Withers was drinking a can of beer and the victim still had the blade protruding from his body, Worcester Crown Court heard.

Withers, aged 44, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding and was jailed for 27 months.

Judge Richard Rundell said an inch or two either way and Withers could have been facing a murder charge.

He accepted a defence submission that the attack was "inexplicable" and said Withers might have mental health issues.

Mr Phillips, who lived with his wife and step daughter, had known the defendant for 15 years and took pity on him when he became homeless at the end of his romance, said Mr Warren.

But on June 26 Withers was spoken to by Mr Phillips about being drunk and an argument blew up.

Later that evening Withers returned to the address. The victim was making coffee when he felt the knife blow.

The blade did not enter the abdominal cavity and he recovered after an operation.

Francis Laird, defending, said Withers had gone through a stressful break-up and was "totally heartbroken".

He was taking anti-depressants when he met his ex by accident in a pub and began drinking heavily.

Mr Laird said: "He became overwhelmed and did something quite inexplicable. He is deeply sorry for what he did. It may have been out of his control."