A Milford Haven man stole thousands of pounds from his mother and uncle to buy presents for his daughter, a court has heard.

Darren James McCarthy, of Mount Pleasant Way, pleaded guilty to theft when he appeared at Haverfordwest magistrates court on Tuesday.

The court heard that McCarthy stole a total of £4,771.13 from Elizabeth and Cyril Howell, between May 6, 2016, and July 28, 2017.

Sian Vaughan, prosecuting, told magistrates it appeared that McCarthy, 34, had fraudulently set up an account.

McCarthy’s uncle, Cyril Howell, first became aware transactions had been made when he received a letter advising him that a direct debit could not be paid due to insufficient funds.

Miss Vaughan added that McCarthy was making repayments.

A statement from his mother was read to the court: “This made me feel very upset. This is all the money I had and I can’t believe that someone would do this to me.”

She added that she had not been sleeping well since the theft, which was affecting her health.

Mr Howell added that he was now very wary of online banking and his cash cards, and was concerned about the distress caused to his sister.

Stacey Holmes, defending, said McCarthy, who worked in a local supermarket, was ‘deeply ashamed’ of his behaviour, and had spent the money on his daughter.

“He says he feels terrible about the impact this has had on his family.”

She added: “He does remain close to his mother and uncle despite this breach of trust.”

The court heard that McCarthy was previously of clean character.

Magistrates imposed a 12-month community order with 120 hours of unpaid work, and ordered McCarthy to pay £3,971.13 compensation for the outstanding amount remaining, plus £85 costs and an £85 surcharge.

The chairman of the bench said: “I don’t think that your mother is very proud of you at this moment in time, I imagine she feels terrible that her son has let her down.”