Help - notice of intented prosecution letter

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missy

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After a few failed attempts and a little help from forumer "island" I'm posting this.
Please don't berate me as I am feeling pretty stupid and very low at the moment.

Here is what happened.
I boarded the train from Sheffield and fell asleep on the train (having not slept very well the previous night due to awful cold) - so didn't hear when the the conductor was checking tickets. Got off at Manchester Oxford road, realised I had forgotten my ticket at home, bought it at the station. Now here is what I did wrong - instead of buying tickets from Sheffield, I bought it from Stockport. Was stopped by RPO as soon as I passed the barriers, and at that moment I realised the mistake I had made. I got flustered and went ahead with the story that my partner dropped me at Stockport and I was in a hurry and couldn't buy tickets there so bought it at Oxford road. The RPO didn't buy my story and asked a few questions - which exit did you arrive at and were there any stairs etc. I was feelign very ill by then and I really wanted to be not questioned any more - I told him the truth that I had got on from Sheffield and bought tickets from Stockport. He asked why - I said I don't know - to which he added "because it was cheaper"? I said yes. He asked for my name and address - I gave him my correct details. He didn't believe me and said that he needed to see my ID and I showed him a card. He made some phone calls and verified its accuracy and said I could go and that I will receive a letter. I recceived the letter last Friday and here is what it says -
On the 28th June you were spoken to by an authorised member of staff at Manchester Oxford Road with regard to an incident of: nonpayment of a rail fare. Before the office proceeds with the investigation of this matter we would like to give you an opportunity to respond to this matter, we would like to give you th opportunity to give an explanation concerning it. Please complete the bottom section ...
As you will appreciate this is a serious incident; therefore it is imperative that you do not hesiatate in contacting the Unit as soon as possible to ascertain the full facts of this matter. Failure to respond will result in legal action being taken (*Regulation of Railway Act and Railways Byelaws apply). I must inform you that should legal proceedings be invoked, in addition to any fines imposed byt he court, there will be an applciation for £150 as a contribution to our costs. Offences of this nature are recordable and should you be convicted you will get a criminal record.
*Railways and Tramways, Regulatio act 1889: ...
Railway Byelaw offences:...

I am completely mortified by this - I was not aware that this is a criminal offence. It was never my intention to evade payment and even now I cannot believe that I bought tickets from Stockport to save a few pounds. I realise that I was foolish and stupid and am extremely sorry. I had a lot on my mind, I was facing redundancy at work and only had a month to find another job, my mother was diagnosed with neuro degenenerative disease and overall I was feeling very stressed and depressed - just to describe my state of mind. Since then I have taken steps to ensure this lapse of judgement does not happen again - I have bought PhotoID weekly pass - even though I only travel 3-4 days.

This is my first offence of any nature - I have never been involved in a situation like this before and have so far had a clean track record all my life.

I would like to write a letter stating that I may be allowed to pay the outstanding fare and all the reasonable costs incurred by the company in order to preserve ymy good name by resolving this without court action.

Any idea what I else I should say in the letter?
 
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Ferret

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Hi! By 'forgotten my ticket at home', do you mean that you have a season ticket?

Now, what you've done by the sound of it is given the rail company a very easy prosecution under s.5 of the Regulation of Railways Act, which covers intent to avoid the fare - you travelled from Sheffield but bought a ticket from Stockport, and it sounds like you admitted as much under caution too.

All I can suggest is writing to the train company with an honest version of events, enclosing a copy of the ticket you'd left at home with perhaps proof of payment too. We normally caution against incriminating yourself further, but I'm not sure that's actually possible in this case! Offer to settle out of Court, and apologise for your mistake. In the end, what the railway company decide to do is entirely at their discretion - they may decide that this is such a simple Prosecution for them that they'll want to follow through with it.

I'm sorry I can't offer much in the way of comfort here! Best wishes with regard to sorting it out.
 

maniacmartin

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It was never my intention to evade payment and even now I cannot believe that I bought tickets from Stockport to save a few pounds.

If the reason you bought from Stockport was to save a few pounds, then it was indeed your intention to evade payment
 

185

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As you say you have a valid ticket (for that day?) at home, try either send that in with a letter of appeal....

Or otherwise make them a sensible offer. They can, and will take you to court for about £450.

If the ticket at home is a return portion of an open (1-month) return, I personally wouldn't bother tbh.
 

yorkie

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... he added "because it was cheaper"? I said yes.
That is admission of intent.

It was never my intention to evade payment and even now I cannot believe that I bought tickets from Stockport to save a few pounds
Unfortunately you have admitted intent.

This is my first offence of any nature - I have never been involved in a situation like this before and have so far had a clean track record all my life.
For a first offence, an Out of Court Settlement is a strong possibility if you wish to do that.
I would like to write a letter stating that I may be allowed to pay the outstanding fare and all the reasonable costs incurred by the company in order to preserve ymy good name by resolving this without court action.

Any idea what I else I should say in the letter?
That probably covers it other than apologising & promising to be more careful in future. If you can supply evidence of the ticket you originally bought that you left at home, then that would be very useful to include.
 

aformeruser

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Was stopped by RPO as soon as I passed the barriers, and at that moment I realised the mistake I had made. I got flustered and went ahead with the story that my partner dropped me at Stockport and I was in a hurry and couldn't buy tickets there so bought it at Oxford road. The RPO didn't buy my story and asked a few questions - which exit did you arrive at and were there any stairs etc.

The EMT service would have departed from either platform 3 or 4 at Stockport. In the morning peak there are ticket checks at the bottom of the stairs leading to platforms 3 and 4, so the only way you could have got on to that train at Stockport without a ticket would have been to alight another train from somewhere else e.g. Hazel Grove, which is probably why you're story wasn't believed by the RPO.

I would like to write a letter stating that I may be allowed to pay the outstanding fare and all the reasonable costs incurred by the company in order to preserve ymy good name by resolving this without court action.

Out of interest which operator's policies apply in circumstances where the company who caught the person who underpaid is not the same as the company who they travelled with? Northern (who do the revenue protection at the central Manchester stations) don't have the same policies as EMT.
 

SussexMan

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.... realised I had forgotten my ticket at home ....

The OP was certainly not able to produce a valid ticket for the journey.

However, if the OP had a valid ticket - albeit at home - then I'm struggling to see how there was intention to evade payment. The problem may be for the OP to produce evidence that payment had previously been made, a ticket held and and for the specific journey which this instance relates to. If this can be done, then I would have thought that there could be some doubt over the intention to evade payment if the OP had paid out more in total than the cost of the fare.

Thoughts?
 

RPI

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The OP was certainly not able to produce a valid ticket for the journey.

However, if the OP had a valid ticket - albeit at home - then I'm struggling to see how there was intention to evade payment. The problem may be for the OP to produce evidence that payment had previously been made, a ticket held and and for the specific journey which this instance relates to. If this can be done, then I would have thought that there could be some doubt over the intention to evade payment if the OP had paid out more in total than the cost of the fare.

Thoughts?

Unfortunately a ticket must be shown on demand or the fare paid on demand so the fare was due there and then, so this is an easy 5.3(c).
 

snail

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if the OP had a valid ticket - albeit at home - then I'm struggling to see how there was intention to evade payment. The problem may be for the OP to produce evidence that payment had previously been made, a ticket held and and for the specific journey which this instance relates to. If this can be done, then I would have thought that there could be some doubt over the intention to evade payment if the OP had paid out more in total than the cost of the fare.

Thoughts?
[Not accusing the OP of anything here] They have passed the original ticket/railcard to a friend, hoping they would get away with not having to buy a full price replacement?
 

SussexMan

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Unfortunately a ticket must be shown on demand or the fare paid on demand so the fare was due there and then, so this is an easy 5.3(c).

Well, I read it differently. 5.3.c says

If any person having failed to pay his fare, gives in reply to a request by an officer of a railway company a false name or address he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding...

The OP did not give false details so section 5.3.c cannot apply. Please explain how it can.

If (and it is a big "if") the OP can prove they paid the fare previously then how can they be convicted of intent to AVOID payment.

As previously stated, they certainly could NOT produce a valid ticket and they can't get out of that one.
 

missy

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Thank you all for your reply. I am not sure if I still have my ticket - it was bought the day before I think. Given that it expired I might have thrown it away.

It looks like my best option is to write a grovelling letter and hope that Northern would settle out of court.

What points should be covered in my letter?

Thanks.
 

Ferret

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Thank you all for your reply. I am not sure if I still have my ticket - it was bought the day before I think. Given that it expired I might have thrown it away.

It looks like my best option is to write a grovelling letter and hope that Northern would settle out of court.

What points should be covered in my letter?

Thanks.

What type of ticket is it? And, can you have a good look for it to make sure you haven't thrown it out. That ticket if you can find it might be the difference between being able to settle, and having to go to Court.
 

missy

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What type of ticket is it? And, can you have a good look for it to make sure you haven't thrown it out. That ticket if you can find it might be the difference between being able to settle, and having to go to Court.

I will have a good look.

I would normally have bought it the evening before travel, STD any route permitted from Sheffield to Manchester STNs.
 

SussexMan

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Given that it expired I might have thrown it away.

But the events of the 28th June would have meant that as soon as I got home I would have got hold of the ticket immediately and either put it somewhere safe or even contacted the TOC and said "look, this is the ticket I left at home". What I wouldn't have done was thought "oh well, the events at the station today mean this ticket isn't relevant".

The problem you will have, even if you find the ticket, is to convince the TOC that it was your ticket, bought specifically for the journey you made. Had you bought it online with a confirmation email dated correctly and to your email address that would help. As it was bought at the station, a bank statement showing the transaction on the date of the ticket purchase would help. If you paid by cash then the ticket could realistically be anyone's.
 

missy

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I will have a good look.

I would normally have bought it the evening before travel, STD any route permitted from Sheffield to Manchester STNs.

Not a seasons ticket, it was 5 day validity ticket.
 

yorkie

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Where would you have bought it, and using what payment method?

If the answer is "by cash" then I'm sorry but "I bought a ticket in cash the day before travel, I left it at home, I have no evidence of the transaction, and despite facing prosecution, I decided to bin the only evidence I have because it had expired and I didn't think I needed evidence" no matter how much you dress it up, isn't going to wash. I've heard people say that before (but worded differently of course ;)), and I doubt a Court would believe it. So I wouldn't even try to claim there was a ticket in those circumstances to be honest.

I would normally have bought it the evening before travel, STD any route permitted from Sheffield to Manchester STNs.
Not a seasons ticket, it was 5 day validity ticket.
What price was this ticket?

When did you next travel from Manchester to Sheffield?
 

Ferret

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Not a seasons ticket, it was 5 day validity ticket.

A Standard Open Return then.

I worry now that even if you find it, without proof that you purchased it, it's not going to help. Furthermore, I'm concerned that if I was a TOC Prosecution bod, I'd be looking at this thread as it stands and wondering if this other ticket was actually ever bought.

I think you'll have to write a very apologetic letter, offering to settle out of Court, and paying both the fare and a reasonable Admin cost. If you can't find this ticket you didn't have on the day, then I'd say don't even mention it.
 

missy

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A Standard Open Return then.

I worry now that even if you find it, without proof that you purchased it, it's not going to help. Furthermore, I'm concerned that if I was a TOC Prosecution bod, I'd be looking at this thread as it stands and wondering if this other ticket was actually ever bought.

I think you'll have to write a very apologetic letter, offering to settle out of Court, and paying both the fare and a reasonable Admin cost. If you can't find this ticket you didn't have on the day, then I'd say don't even mention it.

-------
I am worried too. Extremely. And stressed out.
Thanks for the advice. Much appreciated.
 

Ferret

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Missy - well, it may be a bit soon to be stressed out, with all due respect. For what it's worth, I've known people do far worse than you and settle out of Court. I appreciate it's easy enough for me to say because I'm just sat behind a Blackberry typing this rather than being involved directly, but I'd offer to settle, and see what Northern say, then be stressed if they reject the offer rather than beforehand!
 

Bonemaster

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Having seen a few of these types of threads on here, and to be quiet honest I am quiet worried by, particularly for byelaw offences, which have a maximum fine of level 2 on the sliding scale, that in many circumstances offering to settle and accepting at the first sign of a letter threatening prosecution may not be the right thing for an individual to do, especially for low earners, students, the unemployed and such like.

As far as I am aware the basic magistrates guidelines as a starting point for a level 2 fine is the equivalent of a weeks income up to a maximum of £500, potentially less a discount for an early guilty plea, potentially a further discount for any other mitigating factors that would make no difference to what is an absolute offence e.g. can prove ticket purchased, and no guarantee that magistrate would award costs to the TOC, and not to mention potentially much more favourable payment terms, if the accused can prove they are not in a position to pay. Which may (or may not) work out less than settling with a TOC.

Adding into that that encouraging settling every time, may play right into the hands of some more heavy handed TOCs and encourage aggressive prosecution policies.
 
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Ferret

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Bonemaster, that's a fair and reasonable point.

Generally, the average cost to a person taken to Court by my employers under Byelaw is around £400. It's only in exceptional circumstances that an order for costs is not made. Now, when you consider that most out of Court settlements have been less than the £400 I mention, for the vast majority of cases, settling out of Court *is* the best outcome possible. For a very small minority, the point you make holds good.

As for TOCs following an aggressive prosecution policy - well, there's a simple answer to that!;)
 

island

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I might agree with that for byelaw offences, possibly, but RRA offences would be a different kettle of fish due to the implications of a criminal record these days.
 

aformeruser

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accepting at the first sign of a letter threatening prosecution may not be the right thing for an individual to do, especially for low earners, students, the unemployed and such like.

Or for the employed, as indicated on some fare evasion posters with slogans referring to asking your boss for a day off for a court appearance.
 

ralphchadkirk

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As far as I am aware the basic magistrates guidelines as a starting point for a level 2 fine is the equivalent of a weeks income up to a maximum of £500, potentially less a discount for an early guilty plea, potentially a further discount for any other mitigating factors that would make no difference to what is an absolute offence e.g. can prove ticket purchased, and no guarantee that magistrate would award costs to the TOC, and not to mention potentially much more favourable payment terms, if the accused can prove they are not in a position to pay. Which may (or may not) work out less than settling with a TOC.

However, settling out of court DOES make the prosecution go away. For definite.
 

Bonemaster

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Bonemaster, that's a fair and reasonable point.

Generally, the average cost to a person taken to Court by my employers under Byelaw is around £400. It's only in exceptional circumstances that an order for costs is not made. Now, when you consider that most out of Court settlements have been less than the £400 I mention, for the vast majority of cases, settling out of Court *is* the best outcome possible. For a very small minority, the point you make holds good.

As for TOCs following an aggressive prosecution policy - well, there's a simple answer to that!;)

You are absolutely right, based on average weekly income of around £350 + £60 costs the £400 is pretty much on the money of what the average person would expect, or indeed for a default judgement, where average income is used.

My point is that a chorus of people saying to offer to settle every time does not in every case constitute good advice that the poster who is asking for advice should follow, and that it maybe better to soften advice along these lines, rather than it being offered as a "magic pill", that would be right for everybody.
 

DaveNewcastle

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Bonemaster. Its not at all clear if your view is directed at Missy, who claims to have attempted to buy a Stockport - Manchester ticket for a Sheffield - Manchester journey, or whether you are using her thread to make unconnected remarks directed at more established members who offer advice to others on other threads.
It might help Missy if you made that very clear. (Actually, it would help me!).


I must say that I do not always advise making an offer of a settlement, nor have others. On the contrary, I have interjected on other threads (but not this one) to counter that suggestion when I have considered that that would not have been the appropriate response. I also hesitate to offer advice based on the incident without having some assessment of the person's means and other factors.
But Missy's situation doesn't seem to correspond with some of your remarks.
 

Ferret

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Dave - I got the impression Bonemaster was making a general remark rather than something relevant to Missy's unfortunate situation. Perhaps this would be better split into a different thread for us to explore further among ourselves?
 

missy

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Missy - well, it may be a bit soon to be stressed out, with all due respect. For what it's worth, I've known people do far worse than you and settle out of Court. I appreciate it's easy enough for me to say because I'm just sat behind a Blackberry typing this rather than being involved directly, but I'd offer to settle, and see what Northern say, then be stressed if they reject the offer rather than beforehand!

Thanks Ferret, I appreciate your empathy. I would be glad to settle out of court. But can't help being stressed out. Its lame but I didn't know how serious this matter was and that there are a number of complex bye laws apply.
 

Ferret

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Thanks Ferret, I appreciate your empathy. I would be glad to settle out of court. But can't help being stressed out. Its lame but I didn't know how serious this matter was and that there are a number of complex bye laws apply.

In fairness, many ordinary passengers haven't ever heard of the Railway Byelaws or the Regulation of Railways Act! I'd venture to say that only a small minority of people have heard of them! Unfortunately, ignorance of the law is no defence in this Country though. I do think people should be made more aware of the law, maybe by posters at stations - maybe in time this will happen.

Returning to your case, have you made an offer to Northern as it stands now?
 

missy

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You are absolutely right, based on average weekly income of around £350 + £60 costs the £400 is pretty much on the money of what the average person would expect, or indeed for a default judgement, where average income is used.

My point is that a chorus of people saying to offer to settle every time does not in every case constitute good advice that the poster who is asking for advice should follow, and that it maybe better to soften advice along these lines, rather than it being offered as a "magic pill", that would be right for everybody.

What offence apply to my case then? Bye laws or RRA? What is RRA offence? Thanks.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
In fairness, many ordinary passengers haven't ever heard of the Railway Byelaws or the Regulation of Railways Act! I'd venture to say that only a small minority of people have heard of them! Unfortunately, ignorance of the law is no defence in this Country though. I do think people should be made more aware of the law, maybe by posters at stations - maybe in time this will happen.

Returning to your case, have you made an offer to Northern as it stands now?

Ferret, thanks. I would be writing my letter this weekend. Do you mind having a read if I send it via PM? What points should be covered?Or recommend any other experienced member? Many thanks in advance?
 
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