FOUR members of the same ‘stupid’ family who used fake disabled badges to avoid a £12 parking charge have been fined a combined near-£3,000.
Husband and wife Terry and Deborah Ager forged copies of their elderly relatives’ badges and displayed them in two cars driven by their son Ben and his aunt Joanne Tucker.
CCTV images recovered by Portsmouth City Council investigators shows how 22-year-old Ben Ager and Tucker, 53, parked right next to a pay and display machine at King Henry I Street in Portsmouth at around 12.25pm as the family arrived for a passing out parade and Beating the Retreat ceremony at Guildhall Square.
They left at around 6.20pm – meaning it would have cost them £12 per vehicle to park.
But Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard how retired taxi driver Terry, 71, had photocopied his elderly mother’s badge while his wife Deborah, 56, had created a copy of a blue badge belonging to Terry’s 98-year-old uncle using the pensioner’s computer and printer.
Eagle-eyed parking wardens spotted the fakes as the group attended the ceremony on August 4 last year and issued penalty notices before investigating and calling the elderly pair who own the badges – finding them still at home in Colchester, Essex.
Now the four family members’ ploy to dodge parking charges has ended in them receiving criminal convictions and huge court bills to pay.
Care worker Tucker must pay £805 in fines and costs, while her nephew port worker Ben Ager must pay £1,000. His parents were handed a two-year community order with 240 hours’ unpaid work and £593 each to pay.
Prosecutor Ben Attrill revealed how when quizzed separately the four blamed each other and offered contradicting accounts.
Unrepresented Tucker even tried to blame her uncle for the fake badge, telling council investigators: ‘He’s a very old school man and a law unto himself.’
But in court she submitted a letter admitting: ‘It was wrong and stupid of me to allow this badge to be displayed in my car.’
Addressing magistrates, Mr Attrill said: ‘The defendants in this case are intrinsically linked, both as family members travelling in separate vehicles but also with regards to their involvement in the creation and use of the fake badges.’
He added: ‘Terry Ager created a counterfeit badge, photocopied it at the library and passed it to a passenger in his vehicle, the Citroen, and allowed it to be displayed.
‘Joanne Tucker parked a vehicle, the Renault, and allowed a counterfeit badge to be displayed in it.
‘Deborah Ager created a counterfeit disabled badge, printed on a PC, and displayed it in Joanne Tucker’s vehicle.
‘Ben Ager parked a vehicle, Terry Ager’s Citroen, and allowed a counterfeit badge to be displayed in it when doing so.’
‘Throughout the investigation each defendant has provided contradicting accounts and have failed to provide a full and truthful explanation for their actions.’
Tucker was ‘aware of the fake badges in circulation,’ he added, despite her initial claims she did not know about them. She went on to say she had ‘known for years,’ about the two counterfeits Mr Attrill said.
He added: ‘During interview none of these defendants appear to be willing to accept any blame for the actions of making or using the fake badges, instead blaming it on other family members, or coincidence.
‘However when presented with irrefutable evidence each defendant does provide admissions to making, being aware of the counterfeit badges or allowing them to be used in a vehicle to obtain free parking.’
Terry and supermarket worker Deborah Ager, of Firstore Drive, Colchester, Essex, admitted making an article for use in fraud, and using a parking device with intent to deceive.
Both their son, who lives at home, and Tucker, of Walton Road, Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, admitted unlawfully using a disabled badge. None has previous convictions.
Saleem Chaudhry, defending the Ager trio, said: ‘This is very much a situation where we have a group of people who have maybe taken a chance in the use of a badge.’
He added they had all made admissions in interviews with council investigators.
In a statement after the case, Councillor Lynne Stagg, cabinet member for traffic and transportation said: ‘I can’t believe that a whole family would be involved in creating counterfeit disabled badges to allow them to park for free.
‘They travelled all the way from Essex with the intention of avoiding the parking charges in the area, however our trained officers spotted the fakes and they have now been made to pay for their dishonest actions.’