Abdolhadi Moradi didn't see his attacker coming, but within seconds he was on the ground and fighting for his life.
Queensland man David John Pearce had come up behind him on an Adelaide street in January last year.
He wrapped a shoelace around his victim's throat and pulled it so tight it became partially embedded in his neck.
Mr Moradi, an Afghan refugee who had come to Australia with his three siblings in the hope of a safer life, thought he was going to die.
"I tried to get hold of the thing that was around my neck but it went deep into my flesh and I couldn't grab hold of it," he said in a recent victim impact statement.
"I felt all strength was leaving me. I felt myself going cold."
On Tuesday, Pearce was jailed for at least six years after being found guilty of attempted murder.
In the Supreme Court, Justice Sam Doyle said he could not establish a motive for the "brazen" attack and did not find the attempted killing was racially motivated.
Pearce had argued at trial that it was a case of mistaken identity, believing Mr Moradi was one of a number of men who had been following him two days earlier.
But the 37-year-old was now contrite and remorseful and accepted that Mr Moradi was completely innocent.
Justice Doyle said Mr Moradi had struggled to free himself but could not get his fingers under the shoelace to relieve the pressure.
"Mr Moradi lost consciousness. It was very fortunate the victim survived," he said.
The 28-year-old was the eldest of four siblings who were in Australia without their parents and the attack had left the family fearful.
"Just imagine what would have happened to my siblings if I'd have died," he said.
Justice Doyle said Pearce's actions could be partially explained by dehydration and the methylamphetamine in his system.
But he said his offending was of the "most grave kind".
"Fortunately the victim has not suffered any serious or permanent physical harm," the judge said.
"However, and not surprisingly given the unprovoked, sudden and frightening nature of the attack, the incident has had a significant and continuing psychological impact upon Mr Moradi.
"This is particularly tragic given that he and his family had only recently fled from the dangers that they faced while living in Afghanistan and Iran."
Pearce, who had travelled to Adelaide from Townsville not long before the crime, was jailed for 11 years with a six-year non-parole period.