HE thought it was a clever ploy to save himself just £8.
Benjamin Evans believed he had got round the daily fee in the car park near his work – by planting a fake ticket on his dashboard instead.
But the serial cheat didn’t count on the eagle-eyed city centre ticket inspector who spotted the replica and got photographic evidence – landing the 27-year-old in court charged with offences under the Fraud Act.
Yet in a final bid to avoid taking the blame, Evans even stood up in court and claimed to know nothing about the spoof ticket – instead trying to incriminate a former work colleague and friend.
Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard how, in August last year, civil enforcement officer Christopher Meadows was on his daily patrol of car parks in Southampton when he approached Evans’ grey BMW in Lime Street car park and became suspicious.
The ticket, which claimed that a fee of £8 had been paid for ten hours’ parking, had part of its serial number covered by a 10p coin.
He told how the shading on the city council logo was slightly different to genuine tickets, the number ‘3’ was printed more curved than usual and the edges to the counterfeit ticket were rough, prompting him to slap a fixed penalty notice on the windscreen.
Evans, who was working for estate agents Your Move at the time, saw the warden from his office block and went to confront him, the court was told.
But he refused to open the car to show Mr Meadows the ticket, and walked away telling him to “go and get a proper job”.
The court was told how investigations were carried out which confirmed no ticket had been bought from any of the machines servicing that car park at the price of £8 that day.
Parking enforcement officers repeatedly contacted Evans – who the court heard has received more than £1,000 in separate parking fines in recent years – asking him to provide the ticket, but he failed to respond.
Instead, weeks after the incident on August 29, he emailed them – to complain about his treatment by Mr Meadows.
Giving evidence in his trial, Evans named a former colleague, Jonathan Bailey, as the man who must have got the fake ticket. He said the pair shared the journey to work, with Evans driving every day and Mr Bailey paying for parking.
However, the court heard how nobody had been able to trace Mr Bailey – and Evans was accused by Southampton City Council lawyer, Francisca Da Costa, of “inventing a fictional character” to take the blame when he was caught trying to get “a freebie”.
Evans, from Crampmoor Lane, Romsey, admitted one count of failing to give information which would identify the owner of the car, and was found guilty of a second charge of displaying a false parking ticket.
The court was told how he had three previous convictions for making off without paying, for which he had received 80 hours community service.
Sentencing him, chairman of the bench Susan Williams told Evans she did not believe his evidence and gave him a further 130 hours of community work and ordered him to pay £530 costs.