An unemployed thug who racially abused a beggar and told her to “get a job” has been spared jail.

John Hillcoat hurled abuse at Vasilka Marinova, calling her “a black b******.”

The 31-year-old Linwood man could have been caged for up to 12 months for the offence when he returned to Paisley Sheriff Court this week to learn his fate.

However, Sheriff Colin Pettigrew decided against a prison term and also ruled that Hillcoat would not have to carry out unpaid work as a punishment – as he is not fit enough.

Hillcoat, of Reid Avenue, denied verbally abusing Miss Marinova over her hygiene.

PC Iain McLelland told the trial he heard the accused calling Miss Marinova “a black b******” and telling her to “get a f****** job” as he walked along Paisley’s High Street on May 26 this year.

However, Hillcoat said he would never use that insult towards anyone, as he himself had been unemployed for five years.

Giving evidence in his own defence, he admitted calling Miss Marinova “a black cow.”

When asked by defence solicitor Andy Brophy if he was being racist, Hillcoat replied: “Absolutely not, categorically not. It was for hygiene reasons. She is a street beggar, it was about her hygiene. Where I come from, Linwood, ‘black’ is an insult for hygiene.

“If I was going to be racist I could have said a lot worse but that wasn’t what it was for.”

However, Sheriff Pettigrew convicted him of acting in a racially aggravated manner by shouting, swearing and uttering racist remarks at Miss Marinova.

When Hillcoat returned to court to be sentened, he was placed on a 12-month Community Payback Order that will see him attend drug and alcohol counselling.

Sheriff Pettigrew said that would be the only condition imposed due to Hillcoat’s “difficulties” meaning he couldn’t do unpaid work.