SHE is the disgraced young mum who fraudulently used a disabled parking badge she had found in a bid to park for free.
Now Emma Coomber has been ordered to pay more than £1,000 after being sentenced by magistrates – telling her she was lucky to avoid jail.
Parking chiefs have condemned her actions as “dishonest” as they sound out a warning that other drivers tempted to commit blue badge fraud will be punished.
The 28-year-old mum showed no emotion as she was sentenced to a 12 month community order at Southampton Crown Magistrates for four counts of fraud. Coomber, of Bullar Road, Southampton, had admitted the charges at an earlier hearing.
As previously reported by the Daily Echo, the court heard how Coomber dishonestly used the permit, which has been lost and subsequently cancelled by is rightful owner to park in Southampton city centre on 11 occasions Before that she would normally park in a multi-storey close to Portland Terrace for work at a cost of £5 a day, the court was told.
But an eagle-eyed warden Renault Scenic spotted her parked in a disabled bay opposite Asda on September 8 last year and recognised the vehicle from the multi-storey, it was heard They made checks, having never seen it with a disabled badge before, magistrates heard.
Never-the-less she continued to use the badge and The court heard how the disabled parking permit had been issued by Bournemouth Council and its owner had reported losing it in Southampton, cancelling it on August 26.
Other parking officers were alerted to the badge and it was spotted in the same place and given another parking fine on September 21, the court heard.
It was then used on double yellow lines in Ogle Road on September 24, a disabled bay in the Marlands multi-storey on October 1 and in Portland Terrace on September 28 and 29 and October 6, 12, 13, 14 and 15.in total Coomber racked up seven parking fines totalling £735, which she has not paid, the court was told.
Magistrates heard how a city council parking officer finally seized the badge after stopping her as she prepared to drive off on October 15.
When confronted she told them it was her grandfather’s who she picked up everyday and when asked where he was said “just down the road”.
Asked again, the now unemployed mother-of-one was cautioned and said it belonged to her neighbour’s dad.
but in interview she told investigators she had found the badge in a car park near her home and admitted she should have given it back.
In mitigation Jamie Gammon, for Coomber, said that his client was “deeply ashamed” of her actions and said: “It’s one of these cases where there is no obvious financial gain apart from finding parking spaces easier than anybody else does.”
The court also heard how she had been under pressure with money, had lost her job and was receiving housing benefits and job seekers allowance.
Sentencing her, magistrate Jim Purdie, said: “The offences which you committed are so serious that a custodial sentence could have been imposed. But we are going to deal with it by community order.
She was ordered to pay £1,115 in costs, serve a 20 day rehabilitation order and complete 60 hours unpaid work.
Five similar fraud matters were taken into consideration as part of the sentencing.
Southampton City Council transport leader Councillor Jacqui Rayment said: “We take blue badge fraud very seriously. Not only is it dishonest, it also prevents those who actually need the spaces from accessing vital services and local amenities in the city. I hope this ruling will discourage anyone thinking of using blue badges dishonestly in the future.