HELP Mersey Rail legal questioning

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by lfcforever, 11 Nov 2011.

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  1. lfcforever

    lfcforever New Member

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    Hello all directed to this site by moneysavingexpert forum

    2 weeks ago I travelled from Seaforth to Liverpool Central on a mersey rail train about lunch time. I have a term time rail and bus season ticket called Trio and it says Area D / C3 on it. I have never had a problem using it before to Southport where my college is.

    Liverpool is Area C so i thought was also covered on the pass.

    Anyway, I got to Liverpool Central and the man on the barrier told me it wasn't valid. He said Area D and C3 meant only valid in Sefton, so I needed to pay the fare from bootle to liverpool.

    I didn't have any money on me to pay that fare and the ticket man got a police woman to come over where he said "he has no valid ticket and no funds to pay".

    The police lady told me my rights and questioned me over the incident where I said I had used it to Liverpool before a few times and never been stopped. She pointed to the map on the back and said it shows area where it is valid. after about 10mins of questions she said i could go and would hear from them in due course.

    anyway this morning i have received a summons with this on:

    Regina v (my name)

    You are hearby summonsed to appear on 21 December 2011 at 14:00 before LIVERPOOL magistrates court to answer the following complaint:

    On 31 October 2011, as a passenger upon a railway, did travel without previously having paid the correct fare, with intent to avoid payment thereof, contrary to Section 5/3a of the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 and Transport Act 2000 Section 219.2a.


    What can I do ?? I am 19 and can't afford a fine or criminal record, anyone got advice as i am very very worried.
     
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  3. Indigo2

    Indigo2 Established Member

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    Not that this is any real help, but to put things in context, the fact that you arrived in Liverpool without any money probably appeared to them as suspicious and they will try to use that as evidence that you intended to avoid paying the correct fare. And as you admitted you had used the ticket in this way a few times previously, they can probably reasonably suggest that it is quite unlikely that you failed to notice the map indicating the validity. It unfortunately sounds like you've incriminated yourself quite badly by what you said.

    To avoid a criminal record what you need to do is try and reach an out-of-court settlement, but this is likely to cost you many, many times what the Bootle to Liverpool fare would have been had you had the money to pay it - and because you have admitted travelling without paying the correct fare on several previous occasions, they might not be as willing to settle as if it was clearly a first offence. At the least I guess it would need a pretty convincing explanation for how you failed to comprehend the validity map shown on the ticket and for why you arrived in Liverpool with no money, a huge apology and promise to never do it again.

    Along with that you would need to offer to pay back the fares you should have paid for all the times you travelled outside the ticket's validity, together with money to cover their costs, which could be in the region of a couple of hundred pounds. But I don't want to get your hopes up; it sounds like you have incriminated yourself in the interview and given them quite an easy case and they might want to pursue it in the court. If you can't afford to pay very much the court might impose a relatively small fine, but you would still have a criminal record and in any case I'm sure you will be expected to pay back all the Bootle to Liverpool fares for the previous times you've used the ticket in this way.
     
  4. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Established Member

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    Oh dear. I'm afraid you seem to have incriminated yourself, admitting to using a ticket outside of its validity on several occasions.

    Your ticket clearly states D zones and C3 zone only. Liverpool is in Zone C2. I have seen the Merseyrail publicity and think it is sufficiently clear, so any argument that you were misadvised is probably not going to work.

    I think perhaps the lack of money was the real clincher. Regardless of whether it's true or not, someone turning up in the centre of a city with zero pounds on them is not entirely believable. Did you really have no money? Not even a couple of pounds, or a debit card? Did you offer to pay the difference or to settle the matter at a later date?

    What exactly did you say to the police?

    You can be reassured that there are a couple of people versed in Railway legal matters who frequent the forum. Wait until they arrive! ;)
     
  5. raildude

    raildude Member

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    Couple of odd things:

    1) It is Regina v (The OP) so implies it is the CPS/Police prosecuting so paying them off won't work as they have nowt to lose
    2) I suspect CPS are involved as well because Transport Act 2000 Section 219.2a does not appear to be an offence in itself, but is the legal provision to empower the Byelaws.

    If that is the case then the OP is being charged with 2 separate offences, (byelaw and 1889 act). admitting to having previously done it may be the downfall here, especially if that results in a prosecution for those offences too!
     
  6. Indigo2

    Indigo2 Established Member

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    Ah OK; I missed that but it makes sense. Ignore what I said then. It did sound like a rather long shot. Preparing a good explanation for misunderstanding the validity map and having no money might still be useful though. But I'll leave it to someone who knows what they're talking about to say any more.
     
  7. scrapy

    scrapy Member

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    I don't think having no money is that much of an issue. If the OP believed the ticket was valid then whether he has money or not is irrelevant. There is no law requiring you to carry money. However, it is a passengers responsibility to hold a valid ticket and there is no requirement under the railway byelaws to prove intent, so a successful prosecution is likely. Offering the fare to Merseyrail may not stop prosecution but may however show there was no intent which whilst it might not stop a criminal record, it may result in a lighter sentance.
     
  8. Mike395

    Mike395 Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I'll wait for someone with more experience with railway law to come along rather than offer any comprehensive advice myself, but just to confirm that under RoRA (The Regulation of Railways Act), you would end up with a criminal record if convicted - however, there MAY be ways that this action can be averted - as I say, someone with more knowledge in this area will be along before too long I'm sure :)
     
  9. AlterEgo

    AlterEgo Established Member

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    You seem to have missed the actual offences the OP is being accused of. He is not being prosecuted under the Railway Byelaws. He is being accused of a more serious offence.

    "On 31 October 2011, as a passenger upon a railway, did travel without previously having paid the correct fare, with intent to avoid payment thereof"

    I'd suggest turning up with 'no money' has exacerbated the situation and led to this accusation.
     
  10. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    The 1889 Act requires intention to avoid paying the correct fare. In order to defend yourself against this then it is recommended to seek a solicitor.

    s219 of the Transport Act 2000 refers to the railway byelaws which are strict liability.
     
  11. scrapy

    scrapy Member

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    If they are trying to prove intent, the fact the OP had no money, he could argue he had no money because he thought his ticket was valid wouldn't see any reason to carry any. A good lawyer could argue this in his favour.
     
  12. lfcforever

    lfcforever New Member

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    thanks for the responses so far.

    I rang a solicitor earlier today from Yellow Pages and she basically and very briefly said best to plead guilty because you can\\\'t defend these things?? She said the legal costs would be around £800 if I wanted her to attend court with me and plead not guilty with a poor outlook. I may be able to get legal aid. She was surprised how quickly it had been processed by the police.

    The police asked me

    1) Name & address
    2) Ever been in trouble with police - (Yes - being found on enclosed premises for an unlawful purpose (google 28DL...), but no ticket or railway)
    3) If I knew or thought my ticket was valid - I said I wasn\\\'t 100% sure but was more sure than not
    4) Where I boarded the train - Seaforth
    5) If I had any money on me to buy a ticket to cover the difference - no
    6) Did I know there was a zone map on the back of the ticket? - yes, but didn\\\'t understand it.
    7) other stuff but I really can\\\'t remember fully now. Apparently I get a copy of the interview sent by post to me?
     
  13. Holly

    Holly Member

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    For what it is worth I would throw myself on the mercy of the court.

    When asked how do you plead you ask permission to address the court, saying something like

    "I now realise that I travelled without paying the proper fare and I did do that.
    However, it was an honest mistake. The ticket I held covered part, but not all of the journey and I mistakenly thought it covered all of the journey.
    Therefore I submit that there was no INTENTION to avoid payment. I simply was not able to pay the excess fare at the time which is why I find myself in court today.
    Your honour, I respectfully ask that you dismiss charges that relate to intent to avoid payment because I never had any bad intent. I was merely careless."

    I don't see how you can do more without spending money.
     
  14. MarkyMarkD

    MarkyMarkD Member

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    I'm not from Merseyside, but I have to say that it's an incredibly complicated system, what with "areas" and "zones" and tickets which combine 1 area and 1 zone, or a few areas, or a few zones.

    Scarcely designed to be simple and way more complex than London which is a far bigger city.
     
  15. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Agreed. The off-topic post (and replies) have been removed, I'd like to remind people that when someone requests advice (in particular when it comes to a potential prosecution) we have a particular desire to keep threads on-topic.

    Well, you can defend these things, but it would be costly and success is not guaranteed. However depending on what exactly was said, and what facilities were available when you bought your ticket, it may be the case that the solicitors pessimistic outlook is warranted, but I think we'd need more information before making that assessment, so don't give up just yet!

    Unfortunately, as I've said in previous topics of this nature, there is a shortage of affordable solicitors who are knowledgeable in railway ticketing matters. I've seen some quotes from solicitors who have specialists in this area, but £800 is a lot less than what they would charge.

    I wouln't pay her £800, based on that outlook. But it may well be worth paying someone else £800 (or more) if you believe a criminal record (which will show up on a CRB check - required by some jobs - for life) will either see you lose your current job and/or cause you difficulties obtaining a job in the future, and is worth the cost, and if the chance of success is great enough to warrant it. I think we need more information first before such an assessment can be made, but ultimately only you will know how damaging such a conviction could be for you and what price you may be prepared to pay to defend against it.

    If you were not 100% sure then it is unwise to carry out a journey with no means to pay. Had you paid when given the opportunity at your destination, it sounds like a prosecution would not have occurred. I apologise that this information is not much use after the event and of no comfort to you now, but this information may be useful to others who may be reading this, to avoid such situations. The first thing to do if you are unsure, would be to ask at the origin ticket office (if it is open of course; we have not established the status of the ticket office in this case yet), and failing that from a guard on board the train (if applicable), or at an interchange station (if applicable & if time allows) and finally at the destination station if that is the first opportunity, however without means to pay any additional payment required, then if the answer is indeed that an extra payment is in fact required then that does pose a problem.
    What facilities exactly where available at Seaforth & Liverland [[stn]SFL[/stn]] when you commenced your journey?

    In normal circumstances the ticket office should be open:
    Ticket office opening Monday-Saturday 05:52-00:07
    Sunday 08:07-00:07However if there is only one person manning this ticket office, it would obviously close for certain periods for staff breaks, it may also close due to staff shortages.

    As it appears you were not 100% certain that your ticket was valid, did you enquire at the ticket office before travel? Did you get an inspection on board the train, and was there an opportunity to enquire about the validity on board?

    I would recommend you take particular note of DaveNewcastle, hopefully he will be along shortly to give his views, but he may have further questions. You may wish to send any information that is confidential privately so as not to prejudice any prosecution.
     
  16. lfcforever

    lfcforever New Member

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    Hi again, thank you very much for your advice so far.

    Seaforth ticket booth (to be fair to Mersey rail) is always staffed by someone. I do not recall whether it was on this particular day, but I strongly suspect it will have been open.

    The conductors don't do tickets on our trains and was only checked at Central by a young lad who then got the police woman. I have never had a problem using it there before, so thought it must be valid.

    I can't afford £800 never mind more, I am a student doing a Forensic Computing degree so it would be very very bad news and unfair to get a criminal record over about £2-3.

    I have read elsewhere that I could go to prison as I mentioned I had done it before??!

    Can it not be a defence that there are so many zones/areas combinations around that it is likely to be confusing?
     
  17. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    lfcforever
    I hope I might be able to assist you, though I expect there is more information which would help to ensure the best advice, and you may not wish to post them on here - in fact I suggest that you don't as they may be incriminating. You should have received (or should shortly receive) copies of the Evidence which will be presented to the Court, if it gets that far, and which is Merseyrail's best proof of your Guilt. It would be helpful to read it to see what we're up against, it will include the transcript of your interview in which others have suspected you have incriminated yourself. The other matter relates to your previous conviction. It will help to know which Court Convicted you (again, don't post that on here).

    There's a lot that you (and others) would want to say to defend yourself (such as the confusion about the Zones etc). Sadly, these don't address the core issues which is that the statement you made is, unfortunately, adequate to secure a conviction in itself. (Though these facts are always woth noting, they simply don't help you much).

    I don't want to offer you too much hope in this matter as the claim of "intent to avoid payment" is something which is well established in Railway prosecutions and is set in long-standing precedent in the Courts (though your average High Street solicitor will probably not be familiar with those precedents, despite their £800 fee! If you speak with them again, mention 'Corbyn vs Saunders'). Nevertheless, the Railway prosecutors will be very aware of these and will ensure that the Court reaches its judgement in accordance with those precedents.

    With the information you have presented so far, I am not even willing to advise on how to respond to the Summons (I expect there are other Forms included allowing you to plea Guilty by post and to name your Witnesses etc). The risk of pleading Not Guilty will be the very high probability that you fail and are then fined plus receiving an entry in the Police National Computer as a Criminal Conviction which we'd weigh up against the slim prospect of success and/or very good 'mitigating ircumstances' which may reduce the Fine.
    The risk of pleading Guilty in advance (which reduces the costs claimed against you) and hoping for an opportunity to agree an out-of-court-settlement are that the settlement is refused and that your plea of Guilty will not be forgotten.

    The 'High Street Solicitor' who you've spoken to will probably manage to negotiate a Conditional Discharge for you (based on your age and hpefully lack of relevant previous convictions), and this would be understood by the prosecution before the Trial date and should therefore lead to them settling with you out of Court. But that will amount to the Solicitor's £800 plus the Costs, just to avoid a prosecution.

    I do believe that there is a reasonable prospect of reaching an Out-of-Court-Settlement, and this will result in a payment (maybe £200-£400) and no Criminal Conviction. Lets hope for that, its the least painful outcome.

    I'm sorry that this is not a black and white reply with a single course of action, though I hope I can help further once I've read the Evidence against you. You can send these to me by PM once your posts on this forum reach five (and then wait a little time).

    BTW. This is not going to lead to prison (unless you do something else silly after a Conviction!)

    My reponses to 3 other 'replies' on here are worth noting
    The claim that your admission of having made Additional, previous journeys in this manner are an unfortunate confession of wrong doing. Whilst, they may be used to emphasise the evidence against you, I disagree with raildude that the costs of travel on those journeys can be added into the Claim against you unless they appear on the Summons. (Actually, I know some barrister who would try to add the costs of those earlier offences, but such a Claim should be contested successfully by your solicitor after reaching a Judgement of Guilt).
    I hesitate to agree with Indigo2 that having no money is being used as evidence of your 'intent' to avoid payment. If so, that will be in the Witness statements which should be sent to you and can be contested as the reason for your 'intent' but that gets us nowhere, as the Case Law proof of intent will, presumably, have been established in the Witness Statements conforming with the Case Law precedents. Clealry if you beleived you had paid adequaely you wouldn't need any more money for rail travel, and that belief isn't in question.
    Holly has suggested that you throw yourself on 'the Mercy of the Court'. The Prosecution will not for a moment allow the Justices to be swayed by that and will refer them to the Case Law. Their Clerk will be compelled to direct them towards finding you Guilty, though they may reduce the fine if they are impressed by your innocence. That's one good reason for not letting it get to Court - the standard of Evidence required to prove your 'intent to avoid payment' doesn't have to be very high. Unfortunately.

    I hope this helps. I'm sorry that I can't give you a single direct course of action at this stage, but will attempt to do so once I've had an opportunity to read the Evidence. Be hopeful!
     
    Last edited: 11 Nov 2011
  18. lfcforever

    lfcforever New Member

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    Thanks very much for that, if you can give me an email address or something I can scan the stuff I got.

    Will paying Merseyrail a couple of hundred £ make any difference if it is the transport police (CPS??) who are pursuing me? Can Merseyrail tell the police to stop?
     
  19. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    The answer to both of your questions will depend (as do the other matters) on exactly what is in the papers which have been issued to you.

    I'm so sorry to be persistently vague, but its true that much depends on what has been written by others. I will ask you to send me photocopies / scans or whatever just whenever you can.
    I don't want to give an email addr on here. Once you've reached 5 posts then you can send me a Personal Message (PM) and I can review the documents and advise further.

    (You could even make some random comment in another section about your favourite somethings or a reply in a Quiz, just to get the post number up to five. I think it must be a device to reduce automated spam).
     
  20. MikeWh

    MikeWh Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

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    At risk of going off-topic, yes it is a spam prevention measure AFAIK. Quiz forum posts don't count, but the OP has made 5 posts now and is able to PM.
     
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