A 24-year-old Hendy gambling addict has admitted stealing £10,200 from his mother-in-law in a bid to pay off his debts.

Stephen William Letts, of 48 Bryn Gwili Road, told Llanelli magistrates that he owned more than £140,000 to numerous gambling creditors.

Ellie Morgan, prosecuting, described how Christine Helen – Letts’ mother-in-law – was contacted by her bank on February 3 following “suspicious activity” on her account the previous day when an unsuccessful attempt had been made to withdraw £450 from a cash machine.

Mrs Helen immediately suspected Letts, who she had previously given her account details when arranging a loan for him in her name.

Mrs Letts then went to check two lockable tins she kept in a wardrobe in an upstairs bedroom at her home which had contained a combined £10,200.

Both were empty.

Mrs Helen contacted the police and informed them of her suspicions.

When Letts was confronted by officers “he almost immediately admitted the offences”, Ms Morgan told the court.

When he was interviewed Letts read a prepared statement in which he said he “fully admitted stealing £10,000 from the wardrobe over about two months in £500 bundles”.

In his statement, Letts said he had committed the theft “because I have a gambling problem”.

“I’m sorry for what I have done,” he said.

“I’m in a lot of debt because of this gambling problem.”

Magistrates were told his debts amounted to more than £140,000.

Steve Lloyd, defending, told the court: “He has at least confirmed that he has a problem now and made a full admission to what he has done.”

Letts admitted stealing £10,200 from Mrs Helen between December 1, 2013, and February 4, 2014, and attempting to steal £450 from her on February 2.

The court was told that was currently staying at his father’s address in Aldershot, Hampshire.

Magistrates were informed that their powers would be insufficient to deal with Letts due to the nature of the offences.

“We are sending this case to Crown Court for sentence,” they told Letts.

“These offences are so serious that you need greater punishment than this court is able to give.”

Letts will appear at Swansea on March 28.