Man jailed over parking meter theft

A parking meter repairman has been jailed for two and a half years for jamming the machines and then stealing the money inside when called to fix them.

Arthur Blay stole £70,000 from machines on his beat in Bristol over a period of six years.

Bristol Crown Court heard the 48-year-old, who was employed by Bristol City Council, helped himself after realising he could jam the meters and not register the cash slotted in.

Bristol City Council said that Blay's campaign had been "masked" by a spate of incidents of parking-meter vandalism going on during the period, but that once it realised there was a problem it contacted police who advised it to mark the money inside with a special liquid.

Officers were led to Blay after he touched the SmartWater - only visible under ultraviolet light - on one of the meters.

An investigation revealed that 82% of Blay's meters were recorded as jamming, whereas those on his colleagues' routes usually worked. Bristol has around 300 machines in total.

He was arrested in November 2008 and charged with stealing £70,000, along with a smaller amount marked with the SmartWater.

Blay, of Blackwood, Gwent, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft from parking meters, one of possessing criminal property and 21 of converting criminal property.

Blay's barrister Christopher Jervis said he had not been living the high life, but was instead short of money for day-to-day living expenses.

Blay had found his mortgage difficult to pay and also had to meet the costs of commuting from Wales to Bristol.

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