A ROBBER who held up a Greenock shopkeeper at knifepoint to steal just £80 has been handed a prison term of nearly three-and-a-half years.

James Houston — who also has a High Court conviction for armed robbery — was given an accumulative sentence totalling 1,268 days after a sheriff remarked on his 'appalling' criminal record.

A hooded Houston, 37, raided the Usave convenience store on Roxburgh Street whilst in possession of a push dagger weapon in February.

But he was caught after brave shopkeeper Abdul Ghanai tackled and unmasked him so that his identity could be revealed on an internal colour CCTV camera system.

Sheriff Joseph Hughes told Houston: "You have a quite appalling set of previous convictions, and you must know how serious your position is today."

Greenock Sheriff Court heard how the multiple offender was convicted at the High Court for assault and robbery in recent years.

Among his other convictions are assault to injury and another assault and robbery for which he received a 40-month sentence.

The Telegraph told last month how police instantly knew he was the man responsible for the Usave hold up due to the CCTV footage of the incident.

Brave shopkeeper Mr Ghanai said: "He was a customer who came into the shop maybe three times every couple of weeks and he just suddenly came at me.

"I was shocked, he took me by surprise and pushed me and I went backwards.

"The till was open and he just grabbed the money.

"When he was moving away I grabbed his hood and pulled it down and then he ran away.

"I was thinking that, because there are cameras all around the shop, if I got his hood off at least one of the cameras would show his face.

"Afterwards I was a bit shaken up but the police saw straight away that it was him."

Police caught up with Houston two days after the robbery and found the push dagger — which resembles a knuckleduster with a three-centimetre long blade — tucked into the waistband of his jeans.

He said at the time: "I was stupid, I'm sorry again."

Sheriff Hughes told Houston: "You committed this latest offence, a further assault and robbery in a shop whereby you demanded money with a knife whilst on bail.

"Two days later you were found in possession of a push dagger."

Houston had been released 470 days early from a previous prison sentence, but he must now serve that unexpired portion.

He was told that he would have received sentences totalling 56 months for his latest robbery and weapon-carrying offences.

However, because he had already served the equivalent of a 475-day sentence on remand, this was reduced to 798 days and added to the unexpired 470-day portion of the earlier jail term.

Houston will also be subject strict supervision for nine-months following his release.