A THIEF tried to break in to a car in Greenock town centre after being released early from a prison sentence for stealing an Ardgowan Hospice charity tin.

Joseph McAllister still had 108 days of the jail term still to serve when he was released back into the community before trying the doors of the vehicle at Hunter Place.

McAllister, 49 — who has racked up more than a hundred convictions — then hurled abuse at police officers and threatened to kill them.

The town's sheriff court heard how he called one officer a 'rodent' and another a 'lesbian' before telling them that he would get a gun and shoot them.

McAllister, who was intoxicated on drugs, later threatened: "I'll slit your throats."

Prosecutor Pamela Brady said: "At 11.30am CCTV operators became aware of the accused at Hunter Place.

"He was seen to approach a vehicle and try to open the front passenger door.

"He then tried the rear passenger door and the boot."

McAllister committed the offence on April 25 and had been held in custody on remand since then.

He was also charged with trying the doors of a second vehicle and being unlawfully within the garden of a house, however, his not guilty pleas to these allegations were accepted.

The Telegraph told last year how McAllister swiped the hospice cash can from the premises of Green Oak Funeral Services shortly before Christmas.

Brave business owner Allan McGhee spotted him trying to get away and wrestled him to the ground outside and held him until police arrived.

Among McAllister's plethora of previous convictions — which date back to 1986 — is the theft of £2,000 worth of mobile phones from a changing area used by dance class youngsters at St Andrew's Church hall.

He also swiped a collection box just moments after Mass at St Laurence's Church and stole a disabled man's cash and lottery tickets after offering to help him across a busy road.

Defence lawyer Aidan Gallagher said: "If anyone is to be described as being in a situation of a revolving door in terms of custody, it would be Joseph McAllister.

"He quickly finds himself back in company where illicit substances are available.

"He took valium on the day in question and has no recollection."

Mr Gallagher added: "He did ask me to extend an apology to the police officers involved."

Sheriff Daniel Kelly told McAllister: "I don't think anyone takes pleasure that you are back here again.

"Custody is inevitable and it's up to you thereafter."

McAllister, of the Inverclyde Centre, was returned to prison to serve the 108 days remaining of his previous sentence and given a further 220 days.