TWO young girls were left terrified after a man with a 'terrible' record for violence shouted threats to slit the throats of their relatives during a 20-minute tirade of abuse, a trial heard.

The children — both under 10-years-old — cried and screamed in fear as John Beaton hurled a series of vile slurs from the street towards the flat they were in, Greenock Sheriff Court was told.

The children were happily getting ready to go swimming on Greenock Fair Saturday when Beaton, 33, arrived and put a frightening halt to their plans for a fun day out.

A woman who was present within the property told the court: "I eventually went down after ten minutes to calm him down.

"He was aggressive and telling lies, saying I took drugs.

"He said he was going to phone my work and tell them, phone the social work and slit our throats."

The woman — whom the court heard has never had an issue with drugs — said she was 'terrified' of Beaton, but added: "I knew there were plenty of people watching so if anything happened they would see it.

"I went down also to protect the children."

Her friend told the court: "The weans were terrified, screaming and crying."

Beaton received an 18-month prison sentence last year after attacking two police officers and threatening to cut them 'from ear to ear'.

A pregnant friend of the women who'd arrived to take everyone swimming filmed part of Beaton's behaviour on her mobile phone.

She said: "I was behind him. I didn't want to draw attention to myself in case I became a target.

"I was a bit scared myself."

A male police officer told the trial that the woman was 'crying, very distressed and very upset'.

The PC said: "She said she was frightened for the safety of herself and the children."

Beaton told the court that he had loaned the woman money to pay bills and had gone to the flat to get it back.

Sheriff Andrew McIntyre declared the prosecution witnesses 'very credible', adding: "I have no reason to doubt their accounts."

He found Beaton guilty of behaving in a threatening and abusive manner likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear and alarm, but deleted the allegation of a threat of violence from the charge.

In sentencing him to ten months imprisonment, the sheriff said: "I see you are a person who is prone to very serious forms of violence.

"There is no doubt that a prison sentence is the only proper way to reflect the seriousness of this matter."

Beaton, of no fixed abode, is also subject to and 18-month non-harassment order preventing him from approaching or contacting the victims and entering Hope Street.

His jail term has been backdated to July 3 when he was first remanded in custody on the matter.