Facing prosecution for slip of the tongue

Tentx

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Hello everyone,

I would greatly appreciate some help on a matter.

On 20/11/19 my friends and I were travelling from Stoke Mandeville to Marylebone. The office was closed and machines were broken so we boarded the train with the intention of purchasing our tickets from the excess fare booth at Marylebone.

We arrived at Marylebone and walked towards the ticket booth. A railway revenue protection officer served us. I explained how the office was closed and machines were broken which is why we are now purchasing our tickets.

I minced my words and said we came from Amersham. The officer asked me questions about how I got through the stations barriers. I said there were no barriers, then realised there were no barriers because stoke Mandeville does not have barriers. Upon realising I minced my words I advised the officer I made a mistake we didn’t come from Amersham but came from stoke Mandeville.

I have no idea why I said Amersham it was an honest and genuine mistake, I wasn’t thinking about what I was saying I was on auto pilot. Of course the officer says I was trying to fare evade which I wasn’t. I tried to explain I made a simple mistake and that I mince my words sometimes but he didn’t buy it, and now I’ve received a letter inviting me to recall my account of events before facing potential prosecution!!!

I am absolutely baffled. Any advice how to proceed? I have no idea how I can explain I’m a stupid girl. Also none of my friends’ details were taken. They were with me when I minced my words and they didn’t correct me either.
 
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cuccir

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Welcome to the forums.

I'm sure you can see why the revenue protection officer was suspicious: the cheapest off-peak return fare from Stoke Mandeville is £2.20 more than the most expensive return from Amersham, and peak tickets or tickets such as Travelcards are substantially cheaper from Amersham. Did you ask for a specific ticket type?

It is quite common for people deliberately looking to evade fares, who board at stations where ticket-buying facilities are unavailable, to: (1) lie and say they got on at a closer station to the one that they did; and (2) then claim if challenged that they said the original station in error.

Intending to evade a fare is potentially prosecutable under the Regulation of the Railways Act, and would typically result in a fine. Any prosecution would be declarable for 12 months after prosecution.

I'd advise you write to the train company telling them the truth, strongly apologising, and asking them if they could settle this matter out of court for the fare owed plus the costs of investigating it. However, there is a chance that they will reject your offer and move to prosecution. If they do so, write to them again, phone them, and try and get an out of court settlement. Your defence in court - that you said Amersham by mistake and therefore you were not intending to evade a fare - would frankly be weak, as intent is judged by actions (otherwise every crime could be defended by someone saying 'I made a mistake'!), and your actions look like those of someone trying to evade a fare.

Do not lose hope as train companies have settled out of court for much more serious cases of fare evasions than your own, and they may be willing to do so.

I'm sorry not to offer more suggestions here but if the train company wanted to prosecute you, then unless there is something you're not telling us, it would look like an easy case for them to win.
 

30907

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Could I suggest that you don't use the phrase "minced my words" or "slip of the tongue." Stoke Mandeville and Amersham sound nothing like the same.
 

AnkleBoots

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I'm sorry not to offer more suggestions here but if the train company wanted to prosecute you, then unless there is something you're not telling us, it would look like an easy case for them to win.
Tentx mentions being a girl - if she is a minor, does this change anything?
 

Fawkes Cat

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Tentx mentions being a girl - if she is a minor, does this change anything?
Not in terms of what the OP should do next. Some train companies are reluctant to prosecute people under 18, but they need to know this. So our advice must still be as @cuccir advises above - to write and not hide anything.

And of course it wouldn't be a good idea to claim to be under 18 if that wasn't true - that would lose any sympathy that the railway might have, and virtually guarantee prosecution (if someone can't tell the truth about their age, then why should the railway believe that they are telling the truth about being sorry and promising not to do it again?).
 

Tentx

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And they're nowhere near each other...
It was genuinely and honestly me being in absolute robot mode and not thinking about what I was saying. And I’m over 18. As soon as I realised what I said I told the officer I made a mistake and said the wrong station name
 

Tentx

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Welcome to the forums.

I'm sure you can see why the revenue protection officer was suspicious: the cheapest off-peak return fare from Stoke Mandeville is £2.20 more than the most expensive return from Amersham, and peak tickets or tickets such as Travelcards are substantially cheaper from Amersham. Did you ask for a specific ticket type?

It is quite common for people deliberately looking to evade fares, who board at stations where ticket-buying facilities are unavailable, to: (1) lie and say they got on at a closer station to the one that they did; and (2) then claim if challenged that they said the original station in error.

Intending to evade a fare is potentially prosecutable under the Regulation of the Railways Act, and would typically result in a fine. Any prosecution would be declarable for 12 months after prosecution.

I'd advise you write to the train company telling them the truth, strongly apologising, and asking them if they could settle this matter out of court for the fare owed plus the costs of investigating it. However, there is a chance that they will reject your offer and move to prosecution. If they do so, write to them again, phone them, and try and get an out of court settlement. Your defence in court - that you said Amersham by mistake and therefore you were not intending to evade a fare - would frankly be weak, as intent is judged by actions (otherwise every crime could be defended by someone saying 'I made a mistake'!), and your actions look like those of someone trying to evade a fare.

Do not lose hope as train companies have settled out of court for much more serious cases of fare evasions than your own, and they may be willing to do so.

I'm sorry not to offer more suggestions here but if the train company wanted to prosecute you, then unless there is something you're not telling us, it would look like an easy case for them to win.
I absolutely see his suspicions! Such a stupid mistake to make. There isn’t anything else to add to be honest. I very confidently led the discussion and advised we all need a group travel ticket. As I say as soon as I realised I said the wrong bloody station name it was too late. Doesn’t help that my friends just stood there being silent not paying attention to our conversation.

thank you for taking the time to respond
 

Tentx

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Also just out of curiosity, is there a way of requesting to see the officers body cam footage? Just wondering if that would help my case at all
 

Brissle Girl

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Just an idle thought but does one’s phone have enough tracking information to prove where the train was boarded. Or would the mobile network be able to provide similar information to the account holder?
 

30907

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Also just out of curiosity, is there a way of requesting to see the officers body cam footage? Just wondering if that would help my case at all
If your account of the conversation is correct, ie Amersham-barriers?-Stoke M, then it would simply confirm that you (unintentionally, I accept) attempted to short-fare.
Just an idle thought but does one’s phone have enough tracking information to prove where the train was boarded. Or would the mobile network be able to provide similar information to the account holder?
I think it is common ground between the OP and the TOC that she boarded at Stoke Mandeville (or at least somewhere unbarriered beyond Amersham!).
 

nuts & bolts

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To the OP, find out if the TVM's at Stoke Mandeville are still out of order and together with the time (ticket office closed) of your departure these should assist in mitigating circumstances. The Revenue Dept of TOC will hopefully (for your sake) have viewed station CCTV to correlate departure point and mincing words:)
 
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Bertie the bus

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. As I say as soon as I realised I said the wrong bloody station name it was too late. Doesn’t help that my friends just stood there being silent not paying attention to our conversation.
That isn’t what you originally said. You said you only named your real origin when the RPI asked you how you had got through the barriers at Amersham. Whilst I’m not suggesting you post your full address on here, it could help clarify some points if you confirmed whether you live in Amersham. If you do then saying Amersham could indeed be seen as a ‘robot mode’ moment but if you don’t…
 

Haywain

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To the OP, find out if the TVM's at Stoke Mandeville are still out of order and together with the time (ticket office closed) of your departure these should assist in mitigating circumstances.
What mitigation? The OP states she boarded at Stoke Mandevaille and the TOC clearly believe that. The issue is where the OP initially claimed to have boarded the train.
The Revenue Dept of TOC will hopefully (for your sake) have viewed station CCTV to correlate departure point and mincing words
As stated above, there does not appear to be any dispute about where the OP boarded so why would the TOC be checking CCTV?
 

some bloke

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Any advice how to proceed?
If you write a draft along the lines @cuccir suggests, people on here can comment on it. It's usually better if the letter is brief, so that key points are easier to see.

It may be that there's nothing of special interest in the letter they sent you, but just in case, you could upload a photo of it.

Both should be without identifying details.

I have no idea how I can explain I’m a stupid girl.
If it got that far, a last resort before court would be to go early, ask staff where the prosecutor was and attempt to persuade them to settle. They might be more inclined to believe you if you meet them. There may also be the option of phoning the prosecution department in advance, though there may be the risk of saying the wrong thing.

There would also be the option of consulting a solicitor at some stage, if you thought it appropriate.
 

nuts & bolts

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What mitigation? The OP states she boarded at Stoke Mandevaille and the TOC clearly believe that. The issue is where the OP initially claimed to have boarded the train.

The timing is down to whether the ticket office was closed and tvm's ooo, the op has stated this, this then would allow her to travel without a ticket as there were no functioning ticketing facilities.

As stated above, there does not appear to be any dispute about where the OP boarded so why would the TOC be checking CCTV?
So the op can be assured that the TOC will carry out a check on said no ticket purchasing facilities!

Hope this helps:)
 

Haywain

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So the op can be assured that the TOC will carry out a check on said no ticket purchasing facilities!

Hope this helps:)
In this case of 'short faring' the presence or otherwise of ticketing facilities is completely irrelevant. There is nothing to indicate that the OP would not have been sold a ticket from Stoke Mandeville if that had been requested at the outset. However, that wasn't requested at the outset which is why this has now become a potential prosecution.
 

Belperpete

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I have no idea why I said Amersham it was an honest and genuine mistake, I wasn’t thinking about what I was saying I was on auto pilot.
There must be some reason why you said Amersham, as opposed to thousands of other possible place names. What made you think of Amersham? Is it somewhere that you regularly travel to or from? Is it somewhere you previously travelled from? Is it where you live or work? If you can explain why you said Amersham, and better still prove it (e.g. an old ticket), then they are more likely to believe you.
 

nuts & bolts

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In this case of 'short faring' the presence or otherwise of ticketing facilities is completely irrelevant. There is nothing to indicate that the OP would not have been sold a ticket from Stoke Mandeville if that had been requested at the outset. However, that wasn't requested at the outset which is why this has now become a potential
prosecution.
The OP has not ‘short-fared’ as she has stated this twice!
So the TOC believe they have good grounds to prosecute, But if the OP makes a Subject Access Application (cctv) for coverage to back up her response, it will prove ticket facilities were not available at Stoke Mandeville together with no onboard ticket availability into Marylebone. But she also has to be concise in her response that no fare evasion took place as the doubt is with the TOC!
 

Haywain

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The OP has not ‘short-fared’ as she has stated this twice!
So the TOC believe they have good grounds to prosecute, But if the OP makes a Subject Access Application (cctv) for coverage to back up her response, it will prove ticket facilities were not available at Stoke Mandeville together with no onboard ticket availability into Marylebone. But she also has to be concise in her response that no fare evasion took place as the doubt is with the TOC!
You are living in dreamland.
 

cuccir

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The OP has not ‘short-fared’ as she has stated this twice!
So the TOC believe they have good grounds to prosecute, But if the OP makes a Subject Access Application (cctv) for coverage to back up her response, it will prove ticket facilities were not available at Stoke Mandeville together with no onboard ticket availability into Marylebone. But she also has to be concise in her response that no fare evasion took place as the doubt is with the TOC!
This is bad advice.
 

111-111-1

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Merely stating that she intended to say B when she actually said A does not change what she actually said.
The problem is the OP told the RPI the wrong origin then changed it when challenged about getting through the barriers. It is entirely possible that it was a genuine slip of the tongue and the OP was not trying to pay a smaller fare but it does not look good. If they had said Amersham then immediately corrected, without being prompted, to Stoke Mandeville that would have looked better.

Can the OP think of an explanation of why the slip up occurred? For instance is Amersham their normal destination or start of a journey? Also were they being distracted by their group and possibly had a few drinks? Something of that nature could persuade the company it was a genuine mistake.
 

JBuchananGB

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Surely the situation is exacerbated by the fact that none of the group of friends, with whom the OP was travelling and for whom she was allegedly seeking to pay the fare from Amersham having travelled from Stoke Mandeville, interrupted her to say "Oh no, we got on at Stoke Mandeville". Exactly how many people are involved here, so how many multiples of the difference in fares was allegedly being avoided?

She says that none of her friends' details were taken. What was the outcome for them? Did they each individually approach the excess fares desk and pay from Stoke Mandeville?

The advice given in post #2 is still the right advice, with any supporting information as to why Amersham should be on the tip of her tongue when asked where she had travelled from.
 

some bloke

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I tried to explain...that I mince my words sometimes
That may point to your best line of defence (though not using that phrase) - something like:

"I agree that the company is right to be suspicious, in view of my saying "Amersham". I assure you that I said it because [insert explanation, as far as you can, why you said that station] not in an any attempt to avoid a fare. I recognise this kind of behaviour in myself from a habit of sometimes being confused; I attach a statement from X

[that you have a habit of muddling things up, from someone you think a court/the company would take seriously]."

But please be aware that they and magistrates may still be very sceptical.

An out-of-court settlement, as @cuccir advises trying for, is the safe bet.

Doesn’t help that my friends just stood there being silent not paying attention to our conversation.
If they were near by and silent, wouldn't they have noticed what you said (see @JBuchananGB 's point above)?

You might like to think ahead, to how you would deal with the case in court if it got that far.
I very confidently led the discussion and advised we all need a group travel ticket.
Bear in mind that the potential loss to the company was much higher that the couple of pounds they sometimes prosecute for, because this would have been several tickets.

If anyone on here hasn't seen it, I'd draw their attention to this statement:
It was genuinely and honestly me being in absolute robot mode
 
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30907

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some bloke has drawn attention to the phrase "Robot mode" - I had missed this, but it immediately makes me think the OP has travelled from Amersham before - or worse, tried to pay from Amersham before.

@Tentx: I'd therefore avoid using that phrase in your reply. And please, don't be hurt that we are picking your statement to pieces - it's to avoid you coming across as the sort of character who shouldn't be offered an administrative settlement.
 

Jamiescott1

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The excess fare both at marylebone is to the side of the gate line about 4 metres from gateline. Surely the fact that you approached the excess fare both and not went to the gateline,shows you intended to buy a ticket
 

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