A four-time Littlehampton mayor has been jailed for 18 months for two offences of fraud.

Malcolm Belchamber, 70, of East Ham Road in the town, was sentenced to 12 months for helping a council tenant falsely obtain a higher rate of housing benefit from Arun District Council in 2014.

He then recieved a further six months after being convicted of forging a Home Office letter to the council between 2004 and 2005, claiming the same man had indefinite leave to stay in the UK.

Police said although Belchamber was a town councillor at the time, the offences were unrelated to his council work.

Chief Inspector Justin Burtenshaw said:

“Belchamber plainly felt that he was above the law and wouldn’t be troubled by a criminal investigation.

“He was prepared to lie and blame a co-worker for an offence which ultimately defrauded public money.

“His sentence reflects the seriousness of the offences, which sits in stark contrast to the conduct the public would expect of someone in his position.”

Belchamber was sentenced at Hove Crown Court yesterday (July, 24).

He served as mayor of Littlehampton from 1982-83, 1992-93, 2004-05, and 2006-07.