A HEARTLESS masked killer stabbed a young dad to death before stealing money he had saved to take his kids on a dream holiday.

Murder detectives yesterday told how they believe Christopher Nicol was targeted because the culprit thought he had a large amount of cash in his Maple Road home.

The 27-year-old had hoped to take his young children to Florida but instead died in front of them following a frenzied blade attack in his flat on Thursday night.

Detective Chief Inspector Martin Fergus revealed the horrific details behind the dad's death at a press conference at Greenock Police Office yesterday.

He said: "I'm investigating the murder of a 27-year-old father who was brutally murdered in his living room. It was an abhorrent and violent attack in the presence of his two children, his six year-daughter and five-year-old son.

"His children were staying with him for the September break.

"He was helping his son with his colouring book and his girlfriend was making dinner with his daughter. It was a typical family scene you would see up and down the country.

"At around 9pm there was a call at the door. His girlfriend answered and she was violently pushed aside by a male, whose face was covered by a scarf, brandishing a knife in his right hand.

"An initial scuffle ensued where the scarf was pulled off and Christopher was brutally stabbed to death.

"His partner and neighbour tried to resuscitate him, having called emergency services."

DCI Fergus says the impact of what happened has horrific repercussions for Christopher's children, family and friends.

He says Christopher's children are being supported through their traumatic ordeal by partner agencies but that the experience would stay with them for the rest of their lives.

DCI Fergus said: "This was a young man who kept himself to himself and was a doting father to his children.

"At this time we believe that the motive for this was robbery and that Christopher was targeted specifically because his attacker thought there was a large sum of money in the house, which was not the case.

"He had been saving money to take his children to Florida. We believe the suspect knew Christopher and intended to rob him.

"For whatever the reason, to carry out such a brutal attack in front of such young children is sickening.

"It shows an absolute disregard for their safety or suffering. This callous killer must be caught."

It turned out that the killer fled with only a three-figure sum of money.

DCI Fergus said that police are reviewing CCTV footage and carrying out door-to-door enquiries.

It is not known at this stage where the murderer went after the brutal attack.

DCI Fergus said: "It is unknown whether he had a vehicle or an accomplice."

The suspect is described as between 20-30 years of age, with a local accent, he is approximately 5 ft. 9 inches tall, slim build, with an unkempt, reddish, brown beard and moustache.

He had bad teeth, with some visibly missing. He was wearing a black beanie hat with a logo, possibly Timberland, black top and black jeans or bottoms.

DCI Fergus said:"It was a frenzied attack and the suspect would be carrying evidence with him, mainly blood.

"If anyone with blood stained clothing returned home and reasons for this don't quite add up, we are asking people to come forward."

DCI Fergus is renewing his appeal for information saying the people of Inverclyde hold the key to getting justice for Christopher and his family.

He said: "I believe that the answer to this murder lies in the local community and I am in no doubt that there are people out there who have vital information on this incident, who have not yet come forward. I would urge them to look to their conscience and contact us."

Anyone with information should contact detectives from the Major Investigation Team (West) via 101 quoting incident number 3888 of 26 September 2019. Alternatively, Crimestoppers can be contacted on 0800 555 111, where anonymity can be maintained.