A HOMELESS Stroud man ‘bit the hand that fed him’ by breaking into the home of a kind-hearted woman who had taken pity on him and given him £20, a court heard.

Stephen King, 32, was living rough in an abandoned garage in the town when he approached the woman outside her home in Horns Road and asked for money to stay in a hostel.

Gloucester Crown Court heard on Friday that the woman gave him £20 on March 4th - and just two days later he returned to her home, broke in and stole her handbag.

Prosecutor Janine Wood said: “The woman put her handbag on a table in her house before going into the back garden with her son before going out.

“They both witnessed King going into the property and stealing the woman’s handbag, which contained around £80 in cash, bankcards, two specialist glasses and other personal items amounting to £1,000 in value.

“They chased after him but lost sight of him. When they caught up with him a short while later he told them he no longer had the bag.

“On the way back home the pair spoke to a delivery driver who told them that he had seen King handing over an item to somebody in a car

“The victim then contacted the police and officers arrested King, who denied that he had taken the handbag.”

In a victim personal statement the woman said she had trusted King and had given him money to help him.

“I feel saddened and hurt that he has taken advantage of my kindness," she stated. "I gave him £20 so he could get some accommodation.

“The incident has left me feeling afraid, angry and frustrated at having to pick up the pieces.”

Lloyd Jenkins, defending, said: “He is ashamed of what he has done and accepts that it was a mean offence. But there was no ransacking of the property, no threats and no violence.

“At the time he was homeless and was walking along Horns Road and noticed a rear door open, ran in, snatched the handbag and ran out again. It was a desperate measure carried out in desperate times.

“He accepts that the woman had been charitable towards him but that he repaid her by biting the hand that fed him and in hindsight bitterly regrets what he has done.

“He has been homeless for the past four years following a family dispute after which he turned to drink and lost his job and was banned from driving for two-and-a-half years. He also has a drugs problem. He is a product of his circumstances."

King told the court that he would like to apologise to the victim, but because a restraining order is being imposed, this would not be possible so he read out his letter in court.

King said: “It is a massive disappointment that I find myself writing this letter. I am so sorry for what I did. It will never happen again. I wish I could turn back the time. If I can when I am released I will endeavour to find your belongings and hand them in to the police.”

King pleaded guilty burglary on March 6.

And on Friday the judge sentenced King to 18 months in prison and imposed a two-year restraining order not to contact the victim.