Man who caught dishonest priest speaks out about Blue Badge fraud
The man who caught a priest using a dead woman's disability parking badge has spoken out about his job.
Father William Haymaker was handed a 12-month community order, 200 hours’ unpaid work, and ordered to pay £3,700 in costs after it was discovered he shamelessly used a dead parishioner’s blue badge.
Investigation officer Mark Jobling tracked down Haymaker and made sure he saw justice. He said his suspicions were raised in Western Road, Bexhill, when a man came back to the car. The disabled badge had been for a woman.
Mark said, “That unfolded a whole heap of time and effort into investigating him. That was because of his play acting and trying to avoid justice at any cost. We are not convinced he was a priest. This was questioned by Judge Henson during sentencing.”
Mark explained that Blue Badge fraud is not a victimless crime. He said, “Every time someone uses a badge illegally they are denying a disabled parking space to people who genuinely need one.”
There are in excess of 27,000 blue badges issued in East Sussex. And every year £138,000 is estimated to be lost in parking revenue because of the fraud. Mark patrols Eastbourne town centre regularly to check if blue badges are being used by the right person.
He said, “We either get a straight admission ‘hands up’ that they have done something wrong, or quick thinking like ‘I have just dropped my wife off at the corner or at the hairdressers’.
“Which leads to a bit more questioning and you can tell very quickly by just asking ‘which hairdressers?’ Very rarely anyone will push it for long enough knowing they can’t produce the badge holder.”
Blue Badge Fraud is a crime which could result in a community resolution for minor offences. Second time offenders will be handed a criminal conviction and serious offenders will be taken straight to court.
Mark is part of the East Sussex Counter Fraud Hub, the Eastbourne-based county council initiative aimed at tackling fraud against local authorities, and he says he has even caught some people misusing blue badges parked directly outside its council offices.
Lynne Donnelly, practice manager, said, “This has a huge effect on our genuinely disabled people. All that these offenders are doing, is making it extremely difficult for those who need it most. That’s not fair.”
If you think someone is committing fraud against the county council, or if you have evidence of corruption or other wrongdoing, report it to East Sussex Counter Fraud Hub on 0800 731 7039 or online by clicking here.
And to read more about the William Haymaker case, click here.