A LUXURY car owner risked losing a £58k Mercedes after leaving the ignition key inside the vehicle when a serial thief was on the prowl.

The AMG coupe was parked outside an address in Greenock's west end when multiple offender Denis Morgan spotted it and tried to steal it.

Morgan, 28, was out on licence from a prison sentence imposed earlier this year for a series of bank card frauds when he came across the Merc shortly before midnight.

He was caught after the car owner's partner noticed its headlights were on as she looked out of her window when getting ready for bed, Greenock Sheriff Court was told.

Prosecutor John Penman said: "Police were contacted with a description of the accused regarding him attempting to steal her partner's vehicle.

"She had observed the car's headlights on, and the accused walking away from the vehicle.

"It was noted that the car's engine was on as well."

Morgan pleaded guilty through lawyer Aidan Gallagher to entering the insecure vehicle, engaging its engine and attempting to steal it from the address on Robertson Street on November 6.

He had also been charged with approaching two vehicles on South Street and attempting to gain entry to them but his not guilty pleas to these allegations were accepted.

Fiscal depute Mr Penman said: "The accused stated of his own volition, 'I didn't steal it, I only started it — I couldn't drive it away cos I couldn't find the handbrake'."

Morgan, of Tasker Street, was intoxicated on so-called 'street valium' at the time of the offence.

He was jailed in February after using a stolen bank card to make contactless payments in Greenock shops in order to obtain cigarettes.

The Telegraph told last December how Morgan was jailed for knife possession.

He was caught with the blade in the early hours of the morning after being arrested on suspicion of stealing alcohol from an unlocked van.

Last June we reported how he smashed his way into a parked car in Greenock and swiped a bag just hours after being released early from another prison sentence.

He targeted the Nissan Qashqai at Cathcart Street after taking illegal drugs shortly after getting out of Barlinnie.

He also has other convictions for burglary and threatening behaviour.

Solicitor Mr Gallagher said of his client's latest offence: "He was walking by and by chance noticed that the car key had been left in the vehicle.

"When he left the vehicle the key was discarded before being found and returned to its owner."

Mr Gallagher added: "Street valium has been a problem for him on and off for a period of time.

"He has managed to get some valium, has taken it and is under the influence when the offence takes place."

Sheriff Joseph Hughes sentenced Morgan to six months imprisonment.