AN agency worker submitted time sheets long after losing his council groundwork job.

Unaware the job ceased to exist, the agency continued to bill Durham County Council for the “work” and Denis Dent kept on being paid for almost nine months.

Durham Crown Court heard it was an employee of the agency who realised the oversight in November 2015, but Dent had not performed any work for the council since February that year.

It resulted in an overpayment to Dent of £20,436, while the council suffered a greater loss, as the agency took its cut in billing the authority.

The 66-year-old defendant, of Clifton Road, Darlington, admitted fraud.

Michele Turner, for Dent, said he has endured health difficulties since the offending came to light and added that he has few means to enable him to repay the council.

Recorder Simon Eckersley imposed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for 24 months, during which Dent will undergo 15 days of probation rehabilitation work.

He must also pay £1,200 compensation to the council.