A county councillor has resigned his post as he was sentenced for claiming £32,000 in benefits while in employment.

Cllr George Ringrow was given a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to one of the two charges he was facing.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard how he had received pension credit for five years and eight months despite finding a job a few months after his claim started.

The court heard how Ringrow had resigned from his job as a controller for St John Ambulance and as county councillor for Fareham Town.

The court heard how Ringrow had started receiving pension credits from the Department of Work and Pensions after he found himself out of work in spring 2009.

He claimed this and also housing benefits from June 17 2009.

Ringrow managed to find employment with St John Ambulance and had telephoned the housing department to cancel payments. He did not receive housing benefits from that point on. He also telephoned the pensions department but was told he needed to notify them in writing.

He was able to produce the letter he sent to the department but the court heard the department had no record of such communication.

On receiving no response from the department, the payments kept coming and Ringrow did not take action. The 67 year old of Paxton Road Fareham admitted dishonestly failing to notify a change of circumstances affecting his entitlement to pension credit.

He pleaded not guilty to a charge of making a false statement with a view to obtaining pension credit. This was accepted by the prosecution and the matter will lie on file.

The court heard Ringrow is suffering from health problems, genuinely regretted what had happened and had repaid the money.

Ringrow has also resigned from the diocesan synod and bishop council.

Judge Linda Sullivan QC accepted Ringrow had made efforts to notify the authorities but said he must have realised at some stage.

He was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for a year and ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge.