A FRAUDSTER who was caught using a fake disabled badge to park free of charge has been slapped with a £1,000 fine.
Wenjie Miao was caught out by covert surveillance after arousing suspicion when he parked in a pay-and-display bay in St George’s Square, Portsea, and didn’t fork out any cash.
A Portsmouth City Council civil enforcement officer raised the alarm after spotting the badge displayed on the dashboard of the Volkswagen Bora and calling it in for checks.
The badge stated that it had been issued by Tower Hamlets Borough Council in London to a Johson Addy – but checks revealed it was fake.
Miao was caught out by a parking services investigator who was lying in wait when the 26-year-old returned to his car with his wife on April 30 last year.
In interview he said the badge belonged to a friend’s uncle.
Jodie Mattel, prosecuting at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court, said: ‘He said that the vehicle was his wife’s but it was newly purchased the day before this incident. The friend had offered to lend him his uncle’s badge in the period whilst Mr Miao was applying for a parking permit.’
Miao, from Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, pleaded guilty to possessing an article for use in fraud and misusing a disabled person’s bay. He was ordered to pay a total of £1,000.
Speaking through an interpreter, Miao, who chose to defend himself, denied knowing he was doing anything wrong. He said: ‘Before I used this certificate I didn’t know that it was illegal. Had I known it was illegal I would not have used it.I have been in this country for 10 years and I have never done anything illegal.
‘This was the spur of the moment – I trusted someone too much and I was stupid. I have learnt from this experience.’
Magistrate Arthur Philps said: ‘The blue badge is a privilege, not a right.
‘It comes out of public funds and you understand that this particular offence is quite prevalent.’
Michael Robinson, parking operations manager at the city council, said: ‘We’re very pleased with this outcome.
‘It sends a strong message that the courts will defend the rights of genuine blue badge holders to have the parking concessions they need, and those that abuse the system will pay a high penalty when we catch them.’
Last year, The News revealed how hundreds of people are fraudulently using blue badges to avoid paying parking charges. In some cases people are buying fake badges from the internet or from gangs involved in serious organised crime.