A VALLEYS petrol station worker who stole nearly £15,000 was ordered to pay the money back by a court yesterday.

Kevin Little, 51, of The Bungalows, Varteg, was responsible for bagging the day's takings at DK Forecourts, Pontllanfraith, but kept £14,824.52 of it instead of paying it into the bank, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Caroline Rees said the theft, which took place in a period between March and April last year, was discovered when checks were made by the manager.

The court heard former electrician Little was seen leaving in his car with the money.

Ms Rees said the defendant has an offence of theft and attempting to obtain property by deception on his record from 23 November 1989 and five similar matters, which include using a stolen cheque book.

Little bought a Ford Mondeo with the money from the most recent incident, as well as using it to pay off his debts.

He left DK Forecourts on April 22 2011 to work for his brother.

Matthew Roberts, defending, said his client, a former electrician, was a registered carer for both his parents before they died.

He said a carer's allowance Little was receiving stopped and he ran up debts before getting the petrol station job, when he was asked to work long hours for "less and less".

"These debts followed him and paying them off was not easy," Mr Roberts said.

Little pleaded guilty to three counts of theft of the amounts £3,345.59, £4,619.89 and £6,859.06 when the matter was listed for trial on August 15.

Mr Roberts added Little wanted to repay his employers.

Judge Patrick Curran QC said had the amount stolen been any greater Little would have been facing a prison sentence.

"Offences of these kind are always so serious that they pass they custody threshold. You know that, everybody knows that," he told the defendant.

Little was given a 12 month sentence suspended for two years, ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and repay the full amount stolen at a rate of £350 per month.