A 34-YEAR-OLD man ‘bit the hand that fed him’ when he tried to steal property from a parked car.

Blackburn magistrates heard the car belonged to Rev James McCartney, the man behind the Thomas Project.

And the thief, Gary Carroll, had just enjoyed a free lunch courtesy of the charity which helps people with drug and alcohol problems.

Carroll, of Oban Drive, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to theft of a sat nav, camera, laptop power cable and cash. He was fined £75 with £105 costs.

Parveen Akhtar, prosecuting, said a female volunteer was returning to the Thomas Project when she saw the boot of Father Jim’s Jaguar was open and realised Carroll was searching the vehicle.

“She challenged him and saw he had items in his pocket,” said Miss Akhtar. “The lady simply told him to hand them over and he did.”

Miss Akhtar said that when he was questioned by police Carroll said he had been taking diazepam and his recollection was hazy.

Damian Pickup, defending, said the fact it had been Father Jim’s car aggravated the offence.

“His charity hands out food parcels and helps people like Gary Carroll,” said Mr Pickup. “He was appalled to learn it was his car.

“Father Jim is a charitable man and hopefully he will forgive my client who says that when the court proceedings have concluded he will go and apologise.”