AN ARMED robber sneaked into a Greenock man’s home and tried to stab him before stealing two bank cards.

James Houston used a key to gain access to the flat on Kelly Street then brandished a blade at the householder and made threats.

Houston, 34 — who has been sentenced to 40 months imprisonment for the attack — also demanded money and drugs during the raid.

He was told by Sheriff Andrew McIntyre that he would have been locked up for four-and-a-half years had he not pleaded guilty.

The lawman said: “A charge of assault in this manner on a man within his own home with a knife requires to be treated with the utmost seriousness.”

Houston, a father-of-two, sustained a head injury as the householder bravely grappled and struggled with him at the height of the frightening incident on January 16.

Co-accused, James Kerr, 37, was jailed for 18 months for providing Houston with a false alibi and telling police that the injury was the result of a fall.

Houston — who has a previous High Court conviction for robbery — demanded the cards and their PIN numbers and attempted to strike his victim on the body with the knife.

His pleas of not guilty to charges of stealing a jacket containing the house key and using the cards to help himself to £40 from a cash machine were accepted by the Crown.

Sheriff McIntyre told him: “You were involved in entering this man’s own house with a key, brandishing a knife, threatening to stab him and robbing him.

“Not only do you have a previous conviction for possession of a knife, but also three assaults and also a robbery at the High Court.

“All of that gives me great concern about the risk you pose to the public.”

Kerr admitted attempting to defeat justice by lying in order to conceal his pal’s guilt.

He told police that Houston had been with him all night within a flat on South Street.

Sheriff McIntyre, inset, told him: “Your offence is of a very different nature, but you did what you could to conceal your co-accused’s offence.

“Whilst you have no history of perverting justice, you do have a history for knife crime and this court takes that very seriously.”

Kerr’s 18-month sentence would have been a two-year prison term if he hadn’t pleaded guilty.