A THUG battered a frail cancer-hit pensioner with a hammer during a terrifying robbery bid in her own home in Beith.

James Hume pounced on his 76-year-old neighbour after she answered her door to him in the early hours.

Hume stormed in, shoved her against her zimmer before demanding cash.

The OAP bravely struggled with the 26-year-old before he lashed out with a hammer leaving his victim blood soaked.

A judge heard the incident was “life changing” for the pensioner, who had lived in her home in Beith, Ayrshire for 56 years.

Hume pled guilty on Friday to assaulting the pensioner to her severe injury and with intent to rob.

And the convicted thief was jailed for five and a half years at the High Court in Glasgow.

The hearing was told Hume lived with his aunt in Beith and their home overlooked the rear of his victim’s property.

Prosecutor Eoghainn MacLean said his victim had spinal cancer, was housebound and needed carers.

Hume had gone to her door two weeks before the attack apparently looking for a ladder.

Around 4am last October 15, the OAP was then wakened by Hume repeatedly ringing her doorbell.

He had his hood up and was clutching a claw hammer.

The woman believed it was someone needing help and got up to answer.

But, Hume pushed open the door as the woman stumbled backwards.

Mr MacLean said: “He told her he had been sent from England for works being done at her home.

“He aggressively brandished the hammer at her. She was frightened, but grabbed the weapon’s shaft with both hands.

“He wrenched it free as she fell to the floor.”

His victim pressed an emergency button which contacted carers.

But, Mr MacLean went on: “Hume repeatedly hit her with the hammer on the head and both hands. She continued shouting for help.”

A worker from the OAP’s carers could hear what was happening via a loud speaker in the woman’s home.

Hume became aware police had been alerted and fled the scene.

The victim’s daughter turned up to find her stricken mum slumped in the hallway and “in considerable pain”.

She was treated at hospital for a head wound and fractures on both hands. She has been left scarred for life.

Hume was snared meantime after DNA linked him to the shocking crime.

Police asked him: “Did you mean for it to go that far?”

Hume replied: “No.”

The court heard his victim “no longer feels safe in her own home”.

Mr MacLean said: “She is particularly suspicious of noises she thinks she hears around the house and frequently gets out of bed to check.”

Victoria Young, defending, said Hume was “horrified” at what he done.

Lord Arthurson said the jail-term would have been eight years, but for the guilty plea.

He added: “This was a vulnerable lady who you attacked with a hammer. Your criminal conduct must have been absolutely terrifying.”