Woman first in Plymouth in court for blue badge fraud
THE first person to be prosecuted for the misuse of a blue badge has appeared in court after using a badge belonging to a dead relative.
The landmark case follows a crackdown on the misuse of disabled badges in a joint operation between the police and Plymouth City Council.
Operation Dashboard began in February, with 16 fraudulently used disabled badges seized in a two-day crackdown.
A two-hour operation in March saw police seize four more blue badges and hand out 35 penalty notices.
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Plymouth City Council issues around 5,000 badges each year, but using them illegally has become a national problem.
Johanne Seymor-Trottnam, aged 44, from Kit Hill Crescent pleaded guilty to misusing a blue badge on one occasion in January.
During her appearance at Plymouth Magistrates Court it was heard how she had been travelling into Plymouth City Centre with a friend on January 30 this year.
The court heard how she had been on her way to give evidence in a court case and her friend had given her a lift.
When the pair arrived to park they struggled to find change to pay for parking and were worried they would be late for the trial, so used a blue badge belonging to her father, who has passed away.
A police officer saw the badge in the dashboard of the car.
Mrs Seymor-Trottman was interviewed under caution and admitted the badge belonged to her deceased father.
The court heard how Mrs Seymor-Trottman said she had only used the badge on one other occasion and police confirmed they had no information to suggest otherwise.
Mrs Seymor-Trottman has never been in trouble with the law before and the court heard how she regretted using the badge and knows it was a stupid thing to do, but she was panicking about getting to court on time.
The blue badge in question has been seized by police.
The Chair of the Magistrates Bench said: "For this matter there will be a fine.
"We will take into account your income and your early guilty plea."
Mrs Seymor-Trottman was ordered to pay a £35 fine, a victim surcharge of £20 and a £50 contribution towards costs, making a total of £105.
Cabinet Member for Transport, Councillor Mark Coker said: "We take the fraudulent use of a blue badge very seriously and have been working with the Police to tackle this.
"Misuse of the badges deprives people with a genuine need of access to parking and limits their independence."