AN IRVINE man is now behind bars after an armed raid on a woman’s home in Ayrshire.

John Paul Thomson, 32, was rumbled after the distinctive getaway vehicle used in the terrifying raid was sold on Gumtree.

Thomson was part of a five-strong gang who targeted the 61-year-old’s property in Crosshouse, neat Kilmarnock, on January 29, 2020.

The mob eventually fled empty-handed after the brave woman brandished a bread knife in a bid to get them out.

Thomson was remanded in custody after pleading guilty at the High Court in Glasgow to a charge of assault and attempted robbery.

Fellow raider Kevin Palmer, 39, from the Pollok area of Glasgow, was also locked up to await sentence after he confessed to the same crime.

The pair will be sentenced at a later date.

The court heard that the woman was home alone on the evening of the robbery with her husband out at work.

She was in bed watching TV when her home security system alerted her that someone was outside.

As she went to look, one of the gang was already in the property and he demanded: "Give us the money."

Another of the mob wielded a knife before the victim was grabbed downstairs.

Prosecutor Neil McCulloch said: "Kevin Palmer approached her and attempted to calm the woman before making his way into the living room."

One of the gang emptied her handbag looking for cash. The gang also demanded keys for a safe.

Mr McCulloch continued: "When she refused, two of the men began to hack at the living room fireplace with axes.

"This led the woman to conclude that they were aware she and her husband had a safe installed in the wall behind the fireplace."

The woman struggled with the robber, who held the blade at her. 

Despite then being dragged around the room, the victim grabbed a knife herself and held it at the man.

She then escaped bare-footed out of the smashed patio door and ran to a neighbour for help.

The court heard CCTV captured the gang fleeing the scene in a black Audi A5 with black alloy wheels and silver windows.

Police began the hunt to catch the gang and Palmer was identified as a possible suspect.

He was found to be the owner of the getaway car.

Mr McCulloch: "The vehicle was sold online in early February 2020 by Palmer's brother.

"Photographs of the Audi A5 attached to the listing showed it to match the appearance of the car seen on the CCTV."

It emerged Palmer also told a witness weeks after the raid: "See that thing that happened the other day - if they go through that house, they will find my DNA on the fireplace because I burst my hand."

The court heard forensic evidence also helped snare Thomson, who had initially denied any involvement and had claimed at first that he didn't even know Palmer.

Sentencing was deferred for background reports.