A devout Christian has forgiven the Big Issue seller who plundered his home after he showed compassion and employed him to clean his house.
Property lawyer Richard Rawsthorn first met James McConnell, a homeless drug addict, while he was selling copies of the Big Issue near Mr Rawsthorn’s office in Manchester.
Mr Rawsthorn, a senior partner at Manchester law firm Lawson Coppock and Hart, took Mr McConnell under his wing and began giving him money on a regular basis.
And last autumn, in an astonishing act of generosity, Mr Rawsthorn offered Mr McConnell and his partner Fiona a job cleaning his £350,000 cottage twice a week.
But after they had been cleaning the cottage for a few weeks, Mr Rawsthorn returned home to discover that £6,000 worth of his possessions had been stolen.
Mr Rawsthorn, a former UKIP parliamentary candidate, has spoken of his forgiveness of the crime, saying: “It shook me that he had betrayed my trust so badly but I have forgiven him”.
He added: “People may think I am even more foolish to do that but the fact is that he was a drug addict and I hadn’t appreciated what that really meant.
“It was like placing a labrador in a butcher’s shop and expecting it not to eat the meat. I feel guilty because by putting him in that position I may have derailed his chances of recovering from his addiction in the near future.
“It hasn’t shaken my faith in human nature completely – I would still give money to people who need it.”
Mr McConnell stole the lawyer’s three prized saxophones, a trumpet, two digital cameras, and two laptops, which he sold to feed his drug addiction.
Mr Rawsthorn was able to get his saxophones back, but is still £4,825 out of pocket.
Mr McConnell, from Hulme in Manchester, admitted theft and has been sentenced to nine months in jail by Burnley Crown Court.
In passing sentence Mr Recorder Alan Conrad, QC, said: “This was despicable behaviour towards a man who had shown you and continued to show you only kindness and generosity.”