A POLICE worker stole almost £15,000 from a police station to fund his lifestyle and pay off debts.

Michael Curtin pocketed the money over five years while he worked as an administrative assistant at Farringdon Hall Police Station, in Primate Road, Sunderland.

The 43-year-old admitted nine offences of theft, seven of false accounting and asked for two other theft offences to be taken into account when he appeared at Sunderland Magistrates' Court.

Paul Anderson, prosecuting, said Curtin, a civilian police worker, was responsible for banking cash seized by police during raids.

He said: "On June 16 last year, police officers handed him £6,430 which they had seized from a house in Sunderland.

An audit later found the cash was missing and Mr Curtin was spoken to."

Mr Anderson said further audits revealed cash was missing from between October 31, 1998, and June 10, 2003, totalling almost £15,000.

In mitigation, Joanne Gatens said Curtin had no previous convictions and was of good character.

She said: "He is deeply ashamed of what he has done."

Mrs Gatens said Curtin, of Church Walk House, Walker, Newcastle, was going through a marriage break-up at the time of the offences and was responsible for £30,000 debts.

He was granted unconditional bail until he is sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on a date to be arranged.