A priest who claims to provide pastoral care for the terminally ill has been found guilty of fraud charges after using a Blue Badge belonging to a deceased woman.
A jury found William Haymaker, 62, of Suffolk Road, Bexhill, guilty of the offence when he appeared at Chichester Crown Court.
A date for sentencing has yet to be set.
Haymaker, an ordained Anglican minister, was caught using the Blue Badge to park in a disabled bay in Western Road, Bexhill in December 2015. The holder of the badge had died in October 2015.
In interview Haymaker said he had meant to use a Blue Badge belonging to one or two other patients, one of whom he claimed to have dropped off at a doctor’s surgery in the town. Investigations found that neither of these statements were true.
Haymaker continued to plead his innocence and the case went to the crown court.
In his defence he named yet another woman who he had thought the badge had belonged to, although she has never owned a Blue Badge. When confronted with these facts, Haymaker then went on to claim that he had not realised he had parked in a disabled bay at all.
A jury took 45 minutes to unanimously find him guilty of possessing an article for use in a fraud.
Mark Jobling, East Sussex County Council’s enforcement officer who caught Haymaker misusing the Blue Badge, said: “This is in no way a victimless crime. Every time someone fraudulently uses a blue badge, they are taking up spaces which are needed by people who are genuinely disabled.
“We were disappointed that Haymaker consistently refused to admit the offence, but this case clearly demonstrates how seriously we take the misuse of Blue Badges.
“We hope this sends out a strong message that Blue Badge fraud will not be tolerated in East Sussex and that we won’t hesitate to prosecute offenders.”
Members of the public can report the misuse of Blue Badges by calling 01323 464244 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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