Shamed Portsmouth council worker exposed as fraudster after illegally using blue badge of disabled daughter, 16, who she claimed was in Wetherspoons
A CITY council worker was exposed as a fraudster after being caught using her 16-year-old disabled daughter’s blue badge – who she claimed was in Wetherspoons.
Cleopatra Sillah, a Portsmouth City Council social worker until November, was snared after illegally using the badge to park behind the civic offices in Charles Dickens Street on August 4.
Sillah, who now works for Dorset County Council as a locum social worker, spun five fantasy accounts of why she parked her Nissan with the badge in a pay and display zone.
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The 53-year-old’s lies even led to her own lawyer warning her she was ‘making the hole deeper not shallower’, and led to ‘disappointment’ from the council.
Sillah, appearing at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court, admitted her guilt at misusing a disabled badge in the absence of the holder.
But the court heard how the ‘repeat offender’ was not so forthcoming with the truth prior to her court showdown.
The mum’s ‘web of lies’ started when she was quizzed by a council enforcement officer when the car was discovered with the badge inside.
In a statement read out to court, the officer said: ‘(Sillah) states the disabled badge belongs to her daughter, and when asked for the location of the badge holder she replied, “She's in Wetherspoon's”.’
Sillah, of Kestrel Road, Hilsea, then went with the officer to Wetherspoons to verify the account and locate her daughter.
But when Sillah exited the pub, the mum said: ‘I cannot find my daughter.’
Amid further probing, Sillah then ‘provided a contradictory account stating the badge holder has never been with her’.
The officer added: ‘(Sillah) stated (the daughter) was on her way to the pub. (Sillah) is adamant she never implied that the badge holder was in the pub or with her at any point.’
CCTV from the pub showed Sillah had not been there with her disabled daughter.
Sillah, who was given a penalty notice for a previous offence of misusing her daughter’s blue badge near the pub in 2012, attended an interview with the enforcement officer.
During a series of ‘undermining accounts’, the court heard Sillah gave ‘five different explanations as to the location of the badge holder’.
It prompted her lawyer, Adrian Dodd, to offer warnings to his client. ‘You need to think very clearly about what you're telling, or which story is the truth,’ he said.
He then added she was making 'the hole deeper not shallower'.
But Sillah stood firm: ‘'Everything I've said is true.’
When asked in court for any mitigation, Sillah simply replied she didn’t want to waste court time by explaining anything further.
Sillah, of previous good character, was fined £534 with £300 costs awarded to the council.
The officer added: ‘Considering her role as a social worker her own levels of integrity should be higher and she should have much greater regard for honesty.’
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Councillor Lynne Stagg, member for traffic and transportation said: ‘Whilst we are disappointed that a former member of staff was caught misusing a disabled badge, we hope that these results show to the public that no one is above the law.
‘We will continue to tackle disabled badge abuse across the city regardless of who is caught.
‘Misuse of someone else's badge devalues the system and is morally wrong as well as fraudulent.’