A man who displayed an expired disabled Blue Badge with an altered date when parking in west Suffolk has been ordered to pay out more than £3,500.

Peter Harrell, of Jasmine Road, Red Lodge, parked on the access to Guineas Service Road in Newmarket in November 2021.

However, a Civil Parking Enforcement Officer (CEO) from West Suffolk Council noticed the Blue Badge on display had been altered.

The expiry date of the badge in Mr Harrell's vehicle had been tampered with and the photo defaced.

Mr Harrell was told the badge would be seized by the council.

He claimed to the CEO the badge belonged to his mother, but an investigation by Suffolk County Council’s Counter-Fraud Service found that she had died in August 2020 and the badge had been cancelled the following month.

It should then have been returned to the council’s Blue Badge team.

Mr Harrell denied altering a blue badge with the intent to deceive when he appeared before Suffolk Magistrates' Court on May 27.

At trial on Wednesday, he was found guilty and handed a fine of £660.

He was also instructed to pay investigatory and legal costs of £2,778 and a surcharge of £66 for a total of £3,504.

Beccy Hopfensperger, cabinet member for adult care at Suffolk County Council, said: "This prosecution sends a clear message that the misuse of a Blue Badge will not be tolerated in Suffolk.

"This is not a victimless crime. Illegally using a badge that isn’t yours is denying a disabled parking space to one of the 43,000 registered Blue Badge holders in Suffolk who have a genuine need for them.

"I would like to thank our Counter Fraud Service for their work alongside the district and borough councils in tackling Blue Badge misuse as part of our ongoing commitment to helping the people of Suffolk to live happy and independent lives."

Kathy Bole, chair of Suffolk Coalition of Disabled People, added: "I want to commend the County Council for the action they are taking with regard to the misuse of Blue Badges.

"It boggles the mind how rife this problem is and how flagrant the abusers are. Disabled people who are physically or psychologically impaired including children need these badges to be safe."