A woman from Southend was sentenced to five years in prison at Southend Crown Court today for parking in a Parent and Child space while she was alone.

The incident took place in March this year at Southend Tesco Extra.

Witnesses reported that Ellie Garer, a 29-year-old mum of two from Fairfax Drive in Southend, wailed silently as the sentence was passed by Judge Justice Custis QC.

A jury rejected her defence argument that she had an empty car seat in the rear of her vehicle at the time of the offence.

In her sentencing speech, she said: ‘This is the first sentence of this kind to be given out since Parent and Child space misuse was re-classified in Southend as a criminal matter – this was made possible due to Southend’s ‘unitary council’ status.’

‘It is unacceptable to park in this type of space with an empty child seat – this is just as serious as using the space without any seat at all.’

‘I am entitled to pass sentence for up to five years imprisonment, and I will be using the full extent of this today to send out a clear message that this offence will not be tolerated in the area.’

Shortly after this case was heard, a 64-year-old man was arrested at Southend Waitrose for using a Parent and Child space with his 41-year-old son.

A fellow shopper said: ‘I can’t see how this will ever be progressed through the Crown Prosecution Service. None of the signs stipulate a minimum age.’