A STARTLED Port woman woke to find the hand of an intruder poking through her unlocked front door and trying to dislodge its security chain.

Darren Crawford targeted the house on Lithgow Way at 4.15am and was inching his fingers towards the chain when he was stopped just in time.

The female householder had been sleeping on her living room sofa and was awoken by the sound of the activity at the door shortly before Christmas.

Procurator fiscal Ziad Ul Hassan told Greenock Sheriff Court: "She heard the front door open and the security chain rattling.

"She thought that it was her son returning home.

"The woman could see a hand trying to open the door fully by dislodging the security chain."

The court heard how she managed to get the door closed tightly and then she bravely opened it to confront Crawford — who has 40 previous convictions for dishonesty and breaching court orders.

Mr Ul Hassan said: "The accused was walking away down the path.

"He turned and said, 'Sorry mate, I was looking for someone'.

"He was later traced by police and cautioned and charged, making no reply."

Defence lawyer Aidan Gallagher said: "Notwithstanding his history of offending and drugs issues, there seems to have been a period where he was making improvements.

"He had co-operated with local addiction services and had been responding well to treatment."

Mr Gallagher added: "What appears to have happened is that he has been visited by an individual and he becomes intoxicated, and his recollection from there is clouded by the state he got into.

"The background report refers to the possibility of a community payback order with supervision.

"This would also address negative aspects of his life and lifestyle."

Crawford committed the attempted break-in on December 20 last year.

His not guilty plea to earlier shoplifting at the Port Tesco was accepted by the Crown.

Sheriff Hamilton told Crawford: "You were making good progress but all that falls apart when you decide to break in to a house at 4.15 in the morning.

"You have 40 convictions for dishonesty and breaching court orders."

The sheriff sentenced Crawford, of Lyle Street, Greenock, to eight months imprisonment, backdated to December 21 when he was remanded in custody.