A KNIFE-wielding would-be robber held up a Greenock bus with a six-inch blade at night and demanded the driver's takings.

Gary McGowan struck on the near empty McGill's service in Larkfield after standing menacingly behind a woman passenger as she prepared to get off.

McGowan, 30 — whose criminal recorded is 'peppered' with serious convictions — then approached the male driver and said: "Gimme the dosh."

After being told to 'go away', he persisted: "Just give me it, I don't want to stick you with this — give me the bag."

He then grabbed a cloth bag containing coins but it ripped, causing the change to spill out onto the floor, and he fled onto Cumberland Road empty-handed.

Greenock Sheriff Court heard how there were only two women passengers on the bus when McGowan and a pal boarded it at 8.45pm on May 29.

Prosecutor Kerry Marshall said: "As the bus went up Cumberland Road, one of the female witnesses got up to alight and as she turned to say goodbye to the driver she saw the accused behind her at the cab area holding a knife.

"Concerned for the other female on the bus, she chapped the window to get her attention, however, the woman did not understand what she was saying.

"Meanwhile, the accused was leaning on on the cab door, which is waist height and there is no protection screen.

"The driver saw him with a black-handled knife with approximately a six-inch blade."

The court heard that the driver — who was on the 517 route between Kilblain Street and Burns Square — made an emergency 999 call after failing to get through to police on the 101 number.

Officers found the McGowan at a house on nearby Broadford Terrace.

When he was cautioned and charged at Greenock police office at 2.20am the following morning, he replied: "It's not me, why would I rob a bus mate."

McGowan — who has been in custody over the matter since May 30 — pleaded guilty to assaulting the driver by presenting the knife at him, demanding monies, grabbing a coin bag and attempting to rob him.

His lawyer said: "Mr McGowan is regretful for his conduct.

"He has struggled with addiction issues for years and has a history of mental health concerns, although no specific diagnosis.

"His mental health improves when he is not using illicit substances."

Sheriff Andrew McIntyre deferred sentence on McGowan until October 8 for a background report and further remanded him in custody.

The sheriff told him: "I am very worried about the circumstances of this matter and the fact that your record is peppered with serious offences."