A DAD who fraudulently used his 10-year-old daughter’s disabled blue badge claimed he had gone to get change at Gunwharf Quays to pay for parking while on a shopping journey for church.
Erik Szczechura, of Edmund Road, Southsea, tried to talk his way out of sanctions when pulled up by a city council enforcement officer in a pay and display car park near the shopping centre in College Road.
Suspicions were aroused on May 18 last year when checks on Szczechura’s Wolswagen revealed the badge belonged to a girl – with it a normal school day.
Further checks proved the child was at school, meaning the badge should not be used in her absence.
Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard how Szczechura and his wife returned to the prime parking bay that cost £1 every 20 minutes before the defendant attempted to wriggle out of the sticky situation he found himself in.
The council officer, in a statement read out to court, said: ‘(Szczechura) stated he had parked the vehicle “about 45 minutes ago” and he was aware he should have bought a ticket.
‘But he didn’t have any change so went into Gunwharf to get some. However, despite being gone for 45 minutes he had returned to the vehicle without means of payment for a parking ticket.
‘When asked detailed questions about his reason for parking in the area, he states he was shopping for the church and attending to a private matter.
‘He said he always leaves the disabled badge on the dashboard as he once got a parking fine after forgetting to display it. He said he was not using it to get free parking.
‘He also suggested the authority install card machines so people can pay contactless.’
Szczechura was slapped with a penalty charge notice for the offence, which took place opposite a 60-space pay and display car park with card and contactless payments.
The court heard how in August 2017 the defendant had again been caught out for misusing his daughter’s badge.
‘On this occasion he was parked in a pay and display parking bay and did not purchase a parking ticket,’ the officer said.
‘Instead he chose to display his daughter’s badge despite her being at a play group in Fareham.’
Szczechura was handed a penalty charge notice with the badge retained.
He was also given a formal warning about the conditions of using a badge including how it is only for the use of the badge holder.
The defendant sent a letter to the council in July explaining his actions for the latest offence.
The council officer said: ‘He said he had gone to get change and was not shopping and did not buy anything. Furthermore, the badge is always displayed on the dashboard and he was not using it to obtain free parking.
‘He goes on to say he knows the disabled badge should not be displayed in this manner, and it will not happen again.
‘He said he is aware of the potential fine but that his eldest daughter has started college and therefore has limited finances.’
Magistrates fined Szczechura £266, told him to pay costs of £483 and slapped him with a surcharge of £34.
Szczechura admitted a single charge of misusing a blue badge.