A SHOP manager and a shoplifter exchanged blows after the latter was caught stealing.

Blackburn magistrates heard as James Stewart was pushed out of the shop he hit the manager over the head with a box of washing tablets and the shopkeeper punched him again in self-defence.

During a third confrontation when Stewart came back into the shop, he threw a fire extinguisher at the other man, hitting him on the hand.

Stewart, 40, of Canterbury Street, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to assaulting Abdul Rahman Ullah and seven charges of shoplifting from One Stop Shop.

He was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay £150 compensation to Mr Ullah.

Andy Robinson, prosecuting, said Mr Ullah immediately recognised Stewart as a regular shoplifter when he walked into the shop.

"He challenged him and the defendant's response was to punch him," said Mr Robinson.

"He punched him back in self-defence and then pushed him out of the shop.

"The defendant bared his teeth and threatened to bite him before hitting him over the head with a box of washer tablets."

Mr Robinson said when Stewart threw the fire extinguisher it caught Mr Ullah a glancing blow on the hand which resulted in some swelling.

Mr Robinson said four of the shoplifting offences were at the Pritchard Street shop and the others at the One Stop Shop on Infirmary Street. He said the total value of goods stolen was £458.

Imran Hussain, defending, said his client made no secret of the fact he had a problem with drugs which had been at the centre of his offending for a number of years.

"He has a willingness and a desire to rid himself of drugs and is working with the agencies to achieve that," said Mr Hussain.

"He accepts he threw the first punch at a time when his thinking was impaired through drugs."