A FORMER bank manager has been caught out as a blue badge cheat for the second time in 18 months.

Hina Patel of Cornford Close in Portslade will have to pay up £1,150 after pleading guilty to intent to deceive using a parking device, namely a disabled blue badge.

She initially pleaded not guilty after being summoned to Brighton Magistrates' Court on October 19.

The case was adjourned and yesterday, after changing her plea to guilty, she was ordered to pay a £500 fine, £600 in costs and a £50 victim surcharge.

Ms Patel initially told The Argus she did not want to comment but did say the blue badge use was "an accident" and "a human thing".

The 40-year-old, who confirmed she used to work for Nationwide Building Society, said her day in court was "a very hard day", adding, "It's not [like] I killed someone."

She was previously prosecuted for misuse of a blue badge on May 15 last year when she was given a £300 fine and ordered to pay £350 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

She pleaded guilty on the first occasion at Eastbourne Magistrates' Court.

A friend of Ms Patel, who did not want to be named, said: "She's really distressed. She has a lot of things going on in her life. She's obviously upset."

Brighton and Hove City Council's blue badge team are working with Sussex Police to target known offenders.

Since employing a dedicated blue badge investigator last year, the council has prosecuted 91 offenders for blue badge misuse and a further 250 offenders have been taken through community resolution.

Five hundred blue badges have also been destroyed as a result of enforcement.

Councillor Gill Mitchell, chairwoman of the environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “These prosecutions send out a clear message that we are cracking down on blue badge misuse in the city.

“The blue badge scheme is intended to make sure parking spaces are available for people who genuinely need them.

"We will continue to work with Sussex Police and East Sussex County Council to ensure that people with disabilities can get to and enjoy everything Brighton and Hove has to offer.”