A motorist who masqueraded as his dead father so he and his wife could fraudulently use his disabled blue badge has been given a community penalty.
Kenneth Hinton sent a string of letters and emails claiming his late father was still alive and even resorted to forging the dead man’s signature in an attempt to mislead the authorities.
After his web of lies was revealed and the 56-year-old was invited to an interview to explain his behaviour, he sent an expletive-ridden email to an East Sussex County Council blue badge investigation officer challenging him, “If you want an interview, you will have to get the police to nick me.”
Hinton, of Golden Gate Mews, Eastbourne, admitted three counts of fraud by false representation, one count of forgery and one count of malicious communication.
At Lewes Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday), he was sentenced to a 12-month community order with a requirement to carry out 200 hours’ unpaid work and to undergo 10 hours of rehabilitation.
Judge Mark van der Zwart told him, “The blue badge scheme is vital for people with mobility problems and anyone who takes advantage of the scheme is taking advantage of these people. Such selfish and anti-social behaviour should make you thoroughly ashamed of yourself.
“You took from the community in many senses when you committed these offences and you need to pay that back.”
Describing the malicious communication as the most serious offence, the judge said the abusive email ‘must have been very unpleasant indeed’ for the council employee on the receiving end.
He said, “People who are doing their job on behalf of the local authority or the community need to know they will have the support of the court and that such matters will not be overlooked.”
Hinton was caught when the blue badge was seized after being found in July 2018 in a car belonging to his wife, Pamela Hinton, parked illegally on double yellow lines in an area near Eastbourne Arndale Centre where parking or loading was banned at all times.
She has accepted a police caution for misusing the blue badge on this occasion.
He sent a number of emails to the county council trying to get the badge returned, claiming his father – now dead for two years – had been ‘disadvantaged’ without it.
Enquiries revealed the same vehicle had been issued with a penalty charge notice in December 2017 which was successfully appealed after Hinton sent a letter to the council, forging his dead father’s signature and claiming his blue badge had slipped off the dashboard.
East Sussex County Council’s Carl Maynard said, “Anyone who is or knows someone who is a genuine disabled driver will be appalled by this case.
“Hinton brazenly and shamelessly went to extraordinary lengths – even forging his late father’s signature – to try and continue to benefit from a blue badge he had no right to use.
“This is not a victimless crime and every time someone uses a badge illegally they’re depriving a parking space to someone who genuinely needs one.
“This conviction is the result of the hard work of our blue badge team and should send out a clear message that this kind of fraudulent activity will not be tolerated.”
Hinton was ordered to carry out 100 hours’ unpaid work for the fraud and forgery offences and 200 hours for malicious communications, to be served concurrently, and to pay prosecution costs of £973.