Veteran BBC broadcaster Ray Gosling has admitted that he wasted police time when he claimed to have killed a gay former lover.

He received a 90-day suspended prison sentence today at Nottingham magistrates court.

Gosling initially denied the charge, telling the court: “In my heart and in my head I plead not guilty.”

But after a short discussion with his lawyer, he said: “Digby Johnson, my solicitor, tells me technically I am guilty.

“I just want to say, very clearly and very strongly, sorry to my lover’s family and for the distress I have caused them and sorry that apparently I have wasted police time.”

The 71-year-old presenter was arrested in February on suspicion of murder after he said in a BBC documentary that he had smothered the unnamed man, who he said was dying of AIDS, in hospital years ago.

After hundreds of hours of investigation, Nottinghamshire police said they found no evidence to support his claims and the Crown Prosecution Service said there was “sufficient evidence” to suggest that his confession was false.

Police were also said to be frustrated that the BBC apparently made no effect to verify the claims before broadcasting them.

In the BBC’s Inside Out programme, Gosling claimed he agreed to help the man die in a pact.

He said: “In a hospital one hot afternoon, the doctor said, ‘There’s nothing we can do’, and he was in terrible, terrible pain. I said to the doctor, ‘Leave me just for a bit’ and he went away.

“I picked up the pillow and smothered him until he was dead.”

He initially said he would refuse to name the man, the hospital in which the alleged killing took place and when it occurred but is thought to have told police the man’s name.

Gosling denied that he had made the claims to get publicity for his book.

In August, he said: “I know what some people say, that I said what I did for publicity to promote a book I’m writing.

“That is absolutely not true, I haven’t finished the book yet. Some people say I did it to revive a dying career. I didn’t. I said it out of my heart, out of my feeling for people who had told me their intimate private stories and it got out of hand and I’m sorry.”