Solicitor's career '˜effectively ruined' over Portsmouth parking fraud

A SOLICITOR has been told his career is in ruins after he altered a parking permit with a felt-tip pen.

Wednesday, 26th October 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 27th October 2016, 5:11 pm
Steven Barker leaves Portsmouth Magistrates' Court

Steven Barker bought a month-long season pass for the seafront car park off Clarence Esplanade, altered it to expire in a year, but was caught using it four times.

The shamed 26-year-old even tried to appeal when he got a penalty charge notice, claiming that everything was in order.

He admitted four counts of obtaining services by deception, fraud and making an article for use in fraud.

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Victoria Hill, prosecuting at Portsmouth Crown Court, said: ‘Following his guilty pleas in the magistrates’ court he wrote to the leader of the council seeking to dissuade her from continuing with these proceedings.’

Barker had been a trainee solicitor travelling to the Isle of Wight to complete his training and parked in Southsea to get the hovercraft.

Sentencing, judge Ian Pearson said: ‘Effectively you are ruined as far as being a solicitor is concerned.

‘It’s highly unlikely that you will retain that position.’

He added: ‘The public expect a higher standard of honesty and integrity from members of the profession and this matter means that you plainly fail to achieve the high standard expected.’

Judge Pearson handed him a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years with 150 hours of unpaid work and £986 prosecution costs to pay.

The court heard Barker was caught parking with the altered permit on October 7 and 15, and November 3 and 4 last year.

Now unemployed, Barker was only admitted as a solicitor in February and could face a disciplinary tribunal to be struck off.

William Mousley QC, for Barker, said he was suffering from poor health and financial difficulties at the time he committed the offences.

Mr Mousley said: ‘He is ashamed; this was either a gross error of judgement or an act of complete stupidity and he now has a high price to pay and this will remain with him for a significant period.’

Barker, of Winters Road, Shirrell Heath, claimed he parked in other roads and did not mean to leave the permit in his car.

He told officers at Portsmouth City Council, which prosecuted him, that he altered the permit as it was water damaged.

Councillor Jim Fleming, cabinet member for traffic and transportation at the council, said: ‘I hope that this case serves as a warning to others.’