A CHARITY worker used the organisation's recovery truck to try to steal a van to pay off a drugs debt, a court heard today, Thursday.

His plan came unstuck when a relative of the van owner saw the low loader draw up outside their house at 1.20am.

The owner, Stephen McGowan, was called and he quickly arrived at the scene in Westbourne, Leigh, and saw his £8,000 Renault van being winched up by the truck by Ibrahim Yussif, said Harry Pepper, prosecuting.

When approached Yussif said he was recovering it as someone had reported losing their keys to it and produced a job sheet with the false information.

The police were called and 32-year-old Yussif was later arrested and denied acting dishonestly, maintaining he had been asked to collect the van.

Yussif, of Sherwood Court, Platt Bridge, Wigan, pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to attempted theft.

The father-of-five was ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work, pay £250 prosecution costs and attend a probation "New Direction activities course."

Darren Lee-Smith, defending, said: “A spiralling drugs debt had led to the offence. The charity for where he works had the breakdown truck as they teach youngsters vehicle skills and he used it to try to steal the van.

“He had split up from his wife and run up the drugs debt but the couple are now back together and he no longer uses drugs. His family is helping to pay his debts and he is unlikely to re-offend.”