A MAN with a knife who wandered around streets intoxicated on cocaine and stopped to talk to children has been spared a prison sentence.

Cameron Aitchison even went to the door of a complete stranger and asked for access to their home following an all-night bender.

But a sheriff decided not to jail the 27-year-old after hearing how he'd voluntarily completed a substance abuse programme.

Aitchison was said by his lawyer, Gerry Keenan, to have viewed the court proceedings as a 'blessing in disguise' which saw him undertake a rehabilitation programme.

Greenock Sheriff Court heard how the first offender used the knife for picking pieces of debris out of vehicle tyres in his job as a garage manager.

Aitchison — with traces of cocaine around his nostrils — was arrested in Inverkip after police eventually found him sitting on a bench in someone's back garden with £50 worth of the class A drug still in his pockets, as well as the blade, on the morning of August 8 last year.

Three people had called the police on him.

Prosecutor Lindy Scaife told a previous calling of the case: "The third [witness] phoned on the basis he was acting suspiciously and had spoken to some children."

Another person had told police that Aitchison appeared to be 'casing' properties, the court heard.

Solicitor Mr Keenan said: "The background report indicates that there would be some merit in a period of deferment.

"Notwithstanding the seriousness of the offence, there are positive features in the report that may allow for a community-based disposal."

Sheriff Joseph Hughes told Aitchison: "I am persuaded by the background report and the input of your solicitor, Mr Keenan, to impose a community payback order."

The sheriff placed him under supervision for six months and ordered him to complete 65 hours of unpaid work.

Aitchison, whose address was not given in court, will be on an electronic tag to remain within his home between 8pm and 7am each day and he has also been fined £200.