BLUE BADGE MISUSE CASES IN COURT – BOTH HOLDERS HAD DIED
Two blue badge misuse prosecutions have taken place on the same day – and in both cases the badge holders had died.
Both defendants pleaded guilty and were ordered to pay fines totalling £995, including prosecution costs and victim surcharges.
In the first case a 31-year-old Beckenham woman had misused a blue badge to park in Queens Road, Bromley.
The older style handwritten blue badge on display in her vehicle had belonged to a deceased person. The badge raised suspicion as the date had been altered and this style of badge ceased to be valid after December 2014. The woman later admitted she had found the badge in a car park in Hayes earlier in the year.
The second case related to a 61-year-old woman from Eynsford who displayed a blue badge while she parked in High Street, Chislehurst. When a civil enforcement officer asked the woman to hand over the badge for inspection, she refused and verbally abused the officer before driving away.
The officer issued a penalty charge notice and it was later established that the blue badge on display belonged to the woman’s mother, who had passed away shortly after the badge was issued.
Blue Badge misuse is criminal offence which can lead to a £1,000 fine and confiscation of the badge. Anyone who suspects that a blue badge is being used for the benefit of a person who is not the badge holder can report their concerns at:www.bromley.gov.uk/reportbluebadge
A Bromley council spokesman said: “The latest prosecutions serve as a warning to both relatives and friends of blue badge holders that they will face prosecution for misuse.
“Relatives are also reminded that where a badge is no longer required, it must be returned to the issuing authority without exception.
“There have now been five successful prosecutions since the council launched its blue badge misuse campaign in October 2015.
“More cases are being prepared for court as the council continues to target misuse in order to protect the integrity of the scheme.” (Source: Bromley council press release)
WOMAN USED FAKE PASSPORT TO CLAIM £57,000 IN BENEFITS
Working illegally when she had no right to be in the UK, a woman went on to use a fake passport to claim more than £57,000 in housing and council tax benefit payments.
Following an investigation by the council’s corporate anti-fraud team, the 30-year-old, previously of Alexandra Road, Addiscombe, appeared at Croydon crown court, on 15 June, having previously pleaded guilty to fraud and using a fake passport.
She was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, ordered to carry out 120 hours’ of unpaid work, and pay £500 costs.
The court heard that in 2002 the woman entered the UK from Jamaica on a six-month visitor permit. Her leave to remain was extended to October 2004, in order that she could attend college. But she remained in Britain with no further leave to do so and no means of legally claiming benefits.
In March 2008 she made an application for housing and council tax benefit, using a British passport, but, following an anonymous tip off, an investigation was launched. The anti-fraud team quickly established that the passport was not genuine and that the woman had no leave to remain in the UK. The passport was seized and destroyed.
It was also established that she was working for restaurant chain McDonald’s, without Home Office permission to take employment, which resulted in her being dismissed.
When interviewed she admitted the offences, which had seen her gain housing and council tax benefits to which she was not entitled, amounting to £57,490.80, for the five-year period from March 2008.
Mr Recorder Burns, QC, said that these were serious offences for which only a custodial sentence was appropriate. But taking into account her early guilty plea and good character, and because she had shown remorse, he suspended the sentence.
She has been given further leave to remain as she now has a British partner and children who were born in the UK.
Croydon’s cabinet member for communities, safety and justice Cllr Hamida Ali said: “The diligent work of the council’s anti-fraud team has brought an end to her offences and stopped her taking money from the public purse, where it is used to help those with a legitimate claim for the benefits she accrued, by blatantly breaking the law.”
The woman admitted one charge of dishonesty, under the Fraud Act 2006; and one charge of providing a false document, under the Identity Documents Act 2010. (Source: Croydon council press release)