A FORMER soldier fined for not buying a parking ticket will discover his fate today.
If Leeds Crown Court rules in favour of Mirfield man Nick Newby it could lead to thousands of other motorists challenging fines.
The 46-year-old was hauled before the courts by Kirklees Council after failing to pay 10p for a ticket at Mirfield's Station Road car park.
The legal battle has has so far cost the taxpayer £2,500.
Now it has reached crown court, where Mr Newby's appeal was heard by a judge yesterday.
Appearing for himself, Mr Newby insisted he had not seen either of the two pay and display machines or the two signs on February 8 last year.
He said: "I am a former Royal Marine commando and I have been driving since I was 18.
"I have used pay and display machines on many occasions."
Mr Newby, who lived in Gomersal at the time, but has since moved to Mirfield, was using the car park for the first time last year when he made a quick visit to the town's library.
He said a large sign at the entrance had led him to believe the car park was run by a supermarket rather than the council.
"To have a 14-foot-high Co-op sign at the entrance to the park is at best misleading, at worst it is a way for the council to make more money," he said.
But Kirklees senior parking officer Geoffrey Crowther told the court that from April 2004 to October 2005 some 55,000 tickets had been bought at the car park.
In this time only three people, including Mr Newby, had appealed against parking tickets saying they hadn't known they had to pay.
He said "When we have so few complaints about an issue then it's not seen as a big thing."
Kirklees parking attendant Granville Parker, who issued the ticket on the day, also appeared before the court.
He said that if either of the machines had been obscured he would have put this in his notebook and, since he hadn't, he could only assume that both machines were clearly visible that day.
But under questioning from Mr Newby he admitted that a legally-parked Ford Transit van could theoretically block sight of a machine.
When Mr Newby returned to find the parking ticket he told the court he initially felt stupid.
He said: "I thought I must have been an idiot but when I investigated, I found a white Transit van parked in front of one of the machines."
Under questioning from Simon Perkins, who represented Kirklees Council, Mr Newby admitted that he couldn't recall seeing the van when he had arrived in the car park earlier that day.
In summing up Mr Perkins reminded His Honour Judge Rodney Grant that parking fines were covered by strict liability, meaning the council did not have to prove that Mr Newby intended to evade payment, only that he had actually done so.
In his final remarks Mr Newby said: "I find it absolutely incredible that the council should spend so much on this.
"Common sense seems to have gone out the window."