A MAN who tried to stagger across a busy road in Greenock after buying £25 worth of so-called street valium tablets has been fined almost 20-times that sum in court.

James O'Neill, 53, had swallowed ten tablets and had a further 100 in his pocket when concerned police officers stopped him from making his way across Dellingburn Street, near Morrisons supermarket.

O'Neill — who previously asked to be jailed over an offence of terrorising his elderly parents — had white-coloured residue around his mouth and was unsteady on his feet.

Prosecutor Pamela Brady told the sheriff court: "He was trying to cross a busy street.

"Concerned for his safety, the officers approached and spoke with him.

"The accused freely stated that he had taken ten tablets.

"He was detained for the purposes of a search and in one of the pockets of his jeans was a small zip-lock bag with white tablets within.

"There were 100 tablets in total and they tested positive for etizolam."

O'Neill committed the drug possession offence in March 2019.

He twice previously failed to appear in court on the matter and a warrant was then issued for his arrest.

Defence lawyer Aidan Gallagher said: "He tells me he paid £25 for the tablets.

"The date of the offence is almost two years ago now and he has since improved his lifestyle and reconciled with his long-term partner.

"The relationship has improved his general lifestyle and physical health.

"He had previously been out of trouble since 2015."

At that time O'Neill, of Belville Street, was convicted of threatening to harm his parents.

Sheriff Michael Higgins fined him £450 for the etizolam offence.