An Irvine armed robber whose distinctive getaway vehicle was then sold on Gumtree has been jailed for seven and a half years.

John-Paul Thomson, 32, was part of a five-strong gang who targeted a 61 year-old woman's property in Crosshouse, near 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 and co-accused Kevin Palmer, 39, were sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow after they each earlier admitted to a charge of assault and attempted robbery.

It emerged Thomson already had 34 previous convictions including more than 20 for violence and having weapons.

Lord Mulholland told the pair: "What you did was cowardly and despicable - terrifying a 61-year-old woman in her own home.

"The courts will protect the public from this type of crime by imposing deterrent sentences."

Palmer, of Pollok, Glasgow, was locked up for seven years and two months.

Thomson, of Irvine, was sentenced to seven and a half years.

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: "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 the smashed patio door and raced 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. He initially denied any involvement or even knowing Palmer.