A DRIVER caught with a disabled man’s blue badge pleaded for leniency from magistrates claiming he was helping the wheelchair user.
Robert Correa – known as Robin – twice used the Portsmouth man’s badge and ‘deliberately’ obscured the 2014 expiry date.
I did wrongly use the badge on both of those occasionsRobin Correa
On one occasion a parking enforcement officer saw his Chevrolet Aveo parked in a disabled bay at Mercantile House, a university building.
Investigating officer Stephen Goodall visited the badge holder – who was at home nearby at the time.
‘He didn’t know who had his badge,’ prosecutor Jenny Ager told the court.
‘When shown photographs of Correa’s car he recognised it, he told the officer he (Correa) had supported him in the past, the last occasion in 2014 when he took him for a hospital appointment.’
When Mr Goodall called Correa on a number handed to him by the badge-holder on October 12, the 62-year-old said he was ‘just leaving Portsmouth Crown Court’.
Correa, of Fir Tree Gardens, Waterlooville, also claimed he was unaware the badge had expired and said the badge-holder was with him when he parked his car at the building.
He then said he parked alone in a rush to get to court.
Ms Ager said: ‘He told officer he worked as a volunteer advocate for the crown court.’
The court heard Correa turned up unannounced to the disabled man’s house after the incident.
In interview, he claimed he used the badge thinking he was meeting the badge holder.
Earlier on July 23, Correa had been handed a penalty for parking in Cranbury Place, Southampton, again with the badge expiry date obscured when on display.
He claimed he had been taking the disabled man to mosque – but Ms Ager said this was half a mile away.
Correa, 62, who represented himself at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court, was fined £160 for the later offence and £80 for the Portsmouth crime.
He must pay a £60 victim surcharge and £411.19 costs to Portsmouth City Council.
Sentencing, magistrate Alan Key said: ‘You did try to wriggle out of it, you should have come clean.’
Speaking from the dock, Correa said: ‘I did wrongly use the badge on both of those occasions. In a genuine humanitarian effort to help others, I seriously compromised myself and I ask the court to take my good character, my benevolent actions and my (lack of) previous convictions as part mitigation.
‘I plead guilty to that serious misdemeanour and have true remorse and undertake to be vigilant to avoid any such action being repeated.’
Correa admitted two counts of using a parking device with intent to deceive.
Cllr Jim Fleming, Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for traffic and transportation: ‘Abuse of the blue badge scheme must stop, it is so unfair to those with genuine disabilities.’