Legal worker caught using
A ‘SILLY’ woman who tried to get away with just paying £1.80 for a day’s parking in Southsea after using correction fluid to falsify her ticket was told to cough up nearly £800 at court.
A tearful Malikah Richards was left regretting her expensive decision to defraud the taxpayers of Portsmouth out of £9 after a botched attempt to dupe the authorities.
Parking officers discovered the fraudulent ticket in Western Parade after carrying out routine patrols.
The 25-year-old, who was visiting her boyfriend and attending a job interview, paid £1.80 for her Mercedes to park before altering the ticket to make out she had paid £10.80 for a full day’s parking in October last year.
Richards, who works for Churchers Solicitors in Southsea, used ‘white-out’ correction fluid to change the expiry time on the ticket and a pen to alter the amount paid so it looked ‘more genuine’.
Prosecutor Ben Attrill told Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court of the ‘opportunist one-off’ act that led to the woman admitting two charges of fraud - for adapting and using a false article.
He said: ‘Portsmouth City Council parking officers were patrolling the street when they came across a Mercedes parked in a pay and display bay.
‘They inspected the ticket and noticed it had been altered by Tipp-Ex and by hand using black ink.
‘A parking charge notice was issued and the car was impounded. The car was not claimed but was eventually recovered by the vehicle’s finance company which showed outstanding payments on the vehicle.’
Richards was subsequently arrested by police. During her interview she came clean.
The defendant told officers she ‘only had enough money to pay for an hour’ before confessing to her crimes: ‘I put Tipp-Ex and pen on the ticket to make out I’d paid for the whole day. I knew why my vehicle had been taken away.’
Addressing the bench, a sobbing Richards said: ‘I pleaded guilty. I no longer have the vehicle. I now have a job but was not working at the time.’
The presiding magistrate said: ‘It was silly doing what you did.’
Richards, of Nightingale Road, Southsea, was then slapped with a £440 fine, costs of £300 and a £40 surcharge.
The city council said Richards had amassed over £2,000 in parking fines since March 2018 after being issued with 27 notices.
The defendant had also had her car impounded just a month before she was caught out for her ticket fraud.
Investigations officer, Stephen Goodall, said: ‘The council impounded the defendant's vehicle due to the amount of outstanding penalty charge notices and debt accrued to the authority.
‘On that occasion she stated that she would enter a payment plan, and the vehicle was released to her but she reneged on this agreement, and continued to accrue more penalty notices in Southsea, near to her boyfriend's address.’
Speaking of the ticket fraud, Mr Goodall added: ‘She was aware of the parking restrictions in the area yet chose to be dishonest and alter a parking ticket as it was easier than finding alternative parking.’
Kevin McKee, parking team manager at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘I couldn't believe that someone thought they could get away with altering a Pay and Display parking ticket with tippex to avoid paying for parking.
‘We'll continue to seek out people who commit fraud and prosecute them.’